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Any ideas of engineering competitions, courses and activities for year 11 and up which would interest alongside help with uni applications.

(24 Posts)
ABy1er Tue 27-Aug-19 12:17:26

He is so bored with school work and want him to get him off the XBox and into something he enjoys whilst working towards uni applications.

He used to love his Lego and science stuff but has lost his way a bit.

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sleepismysuperpower1 Tue 27-Aug-19 12:52:01

there is a competition called the big bang fair for young engineers.

there is a lego competition here, where teams of up to 10 students build, program and test an autonomous LEGO Mindstorms® robot to solve a set of missions whilst following a brief (this year's is to help make an older person's life easier), so if he has a friend or 2 interested in computing or engineering then this would be an interesting one.

Stillabitemo Tue 27-Aug-19 12:55:26

Less hands on but try having a look at relevant podcasts.

Also worth exploring local universities/FE colleges to see if they offer any clubs - what area are you in?

elephantoverthehill Tue 27-Aug-19 12:57:41

Google Smallpeice, and it spelled like that, an engineering foundation for school children that run weekends at unis etc.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 27-Aug-19 13:35:53

I've got a DD doing an engineering degree. This is probably one of the best areas for availability of stuff they can do, both organised activities and DIY. Some have been mentioned:

Big Bang also crest awards/go4set
Lego esp the robotics. (The first week's practical at her uni was group work making Lego robots!)
Smallpeice (she did one of their summer courses)
Headstart in the summer during sixth form.

Arkwright scholarship scheme - this is really valuable (both in terms of uni application and also some actual cash!).

DIY electronics/building stuff. Eg she designed and built a simple obstacle-avoiding robot from scratch with no microcontrollers in the summer after GCSEs. Then she did an 'artefact' EPQ in the sixth form which was more complicated. (Electronics and the mechanical structure).

Raspberry pi - she didn't do that much independently(but did do gcse and AS comp sci) but there's quite a lot of possibilities with a pi, and programming in Python is a useful skill for engineers (engineering degrees will pretty mich all include programming modules, and quite a lot of internships will be software projects)

Vexx robotics club/competition- she helped run this for the younger pupils when she was in the sixth form.
There might be other robotics or 'makers' clubs he could join.

One of her engineering pals got quite seriously into building rockets before uni.

Wiifitmama Tue 27-Aug-19 13:38:26 This is free, government sponsored and about to restart. You work through it at your own pace on your own computer. Top students are invited to a free residential at the end of the programme if they do well.

Wiifitmama Tue 27-Aug-19 13:40:27

One word of warning about the Lego competition linked to by someone - it needs an adult volunteer coach. This will be my 7th year coaching and I know the competition well and recommend it, but it is not something the kids can organise on their own. In addition, the lego robotics sets cost over £300 and the entry fee is £180.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 27-Aug-19 13:54:32

I misspelled upthread, it's Vex robotics not Vexx.

ABy1er Tue 27-Aug-19 16:45:40

Many thanks for all the ideas. Re the Cyber Discovery link, he’s more into engineering than coding although he is good at it. Thanks anyway.

How does the Arkwright thing help, just looks like a uni grant. Bit gutted that he isn’t doing DT( he chose geog instead,bit if a mistake) as he hasn’t made anything. If he was doing DT which he was good at it would have really helped. If he got his finger out he might be able to come up with something but if he was doing DT he’d have had an advantage. 😩

The BigBang. Found that a bit confusing, do they have to make the productor just submit plans.Seemed a bit vague as to what. Think he’d need to have it done by Nov.

Are there any comps like the maths Olympiad thing?

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ABy1er Tue 27-Aug-19 16:46:24

Or just submit

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Propertyfaux Tue 27-Aug-19 17:14:45

My nephew who is at imperial contacted a local steam engine museum. Spent Saturdays stripping and cleaning engine parts. He was very quickly getting engines up and running. Got good references as well as brownie points as it was also a charity organisation.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 27-Aug-19 17:25:30

Yes, doing DT (or as my DD did, electronic products) was a help with the Arkwright scholarship as the project from that was eligible. I'd hope the assessors take into account how independent the project was and would expect more from kids who have help via school.

But there's more to it than that - it is a 'competition' as they have to do an exam (curriculum knowledge plus nous, I think) and have an interview. That takes place in a local uni engineering dept. so they get a tour. And then if they win, both the student and the school get some cash which is specifically for engineering-related activities/stuff so can fund books, courses, equipment for an epq, computer or whatever. They get a industrial sponsor - DD's was rather useless TBH but one of her pals got some good work experience. And Arkwright will pay for a Headstart course. It does take effort, but IMO was very worthwhile.

ABy1er Tue 27-Aug-19 17:43:59

I know you can’t go back but kicking myself . School steered towards eebac hence the geog, he’s doing CS but if Id fought for it could have done DT instead of geog with the CS. I honestly don’t think he’d gave a chance with the Arkwright, he’d do well in the exam but the other bit comes first and those doing DT would be streaks ahead of a little home made project.Annoyed school didn’t guide us better. Told them he wanted to do engineering and they just said physics and maths trumps everything, eebac, eebac.

Feel I’ve let him down a bit as he argued for DT then listened and changed to geog, by the time I thought he should what he wants it was too late to switch. He was was getting As in DT😩.

Hey ho

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OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 27-Aug-19 17:53:27

What are his aspirations in terms of universities? DT won't really make much of a difference longer term. Whereabouts in the country do you live? Does he go to a state school?

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 27-Aug-19 17:54:44

ABy1er Tue 27-Aug-19 18:00:59

State and he has high ambitions. I hope the DT won’t matter but when you look at these ec things it does look like an advantage.

Will look that other one up.

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TheletterZ Tue 27-Aug-19 18:14:10

I don’t think the DT lack will make a big difference. My daughter’s year 10 work wouldn’t help with Arkwright. There are suggestions on the website for projects you can do independently and that would get him off the x-box! He would have to do some prep for the exam, again time off x-box and the extension will be good for confidence and uni application.

I suggest he gives it a go, if his school will support his application.

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 27-Aug-19 18:16:01

For Year 12 keep an eye on the deadlines for
dd did this. It was invaluable. Also start looking up summer camps for next year.

He should be looking at a very minimum of grade 7 for maths (preferably grade 8) so that he can do well at A level maths. His school are right that physics is also very important.

ABy1er Tue 27-Aug-19 18:31:21

His targets are 8 and 9s for GCSEs, think some of these ideas might help to get him motivated. He loves a bit of competition.grin

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OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 27-Aug-19 18:35:39


ErrolTheDragon Tue 27-Aug-19 18:46:46

Physics and maths does trump everything, but EBacc is almost wholly irrelevant except to the school's stats. I'm not saying it's a bad idea for able students to cover that range of subjects. It was fine before the reforms when they could do an Ebacc plus a tech and an 'arts' subject if they wanted to, but can take up too many options now and may not suit everyone. (I'm sure you agree!)

But the DT isn't vital, take TheLetterZ's advice. If he likes engineering he will hopefully find tinkering with a project fun and nothing ventured, nothing gained.

ABy1er Tue 27-Aug-19 18:59:14

I know if I had my time again I wouldn’t bother with eebac. Thing is these things aid uni admissions so they should have been better informed re encouraging DT. Yes it’s goid to tinker but annoying his chances re entering anything are diminished. That said I suspect not many schools do DT anyway.

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Namechangeforthiscancershit Tue 27-Aug-19 19:10:01

Total other end of the spectrum (how many stupid questions can he answer grin) but we have had someone come into Rainbows so they can have a go at robotics and I know people have had really successful building or Lego evenings. Beavers and cubs are probably crying out for the same thing.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 27-Aug-19 19:20:13

* That said I suspect not many schools do DT anyway.*

You're right, I think the numbers have gone down massively since the reforms. And even before them, not sure that a huge proportion of more able students did tech subjects? So actually, he may not be at a disadvantage at all versus most other candidates, many of whom may also have been steered towards ebacc.

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