October 21 2014 Latest news:

Spaghetti scaffolding, tried-and-tested cous cous, and even some lucky jelly beans could not stop youngsters making an almighty mess at this year’s Tallest Jelly Competition.

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The annual contest, part of the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, brought together teams from schools across Norfolk at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich this morning.

Using a combination of food science, biology, chemistry, and physics – even if they did not realise it – pupils worked to build the tallest jelly using a host of edible ingredients to strengthen the mixture.

City Academy took the title for the tallest tower at 43cm – considerably shorter than the 2011 winner which measured 1m – using jelly packed with cous cous.

Pupil Lilyjayne Metcalfe, 11, revealed it had not gone quite to plan. She said: “We were supposed to have four little tubs of jelly on the bottom, then we were going to have some cups on top. But it was destroyed straight away so we just started making it up in a mess. That worked quite well.”

If there was a prize for the messiest entry, Little Melton Primary School would have been a strong contender.

Ella Gilbertson, six, and Freya Judkins, 11, won the chance to represent their school at the Norwich Research Park contest after impressing in a homework competition.

Using 28 jellies stacked on top of each other, the children added spaghetti to try to create scaffolding for the structure.

Although the jellies collapsed, Ella and Freya both enjoyed getting to eat the tangerine, raspberry and strawberry flavoured mess left behind.

But Rockland St Mary Primary School pupils proved, even if your jelly fails to reach for the sky, you can still impress the judges.

The team was awarded the title for best workbook despite making a mess.

Nine-year-old Bertie Brooks said he and his class mates, including Ava Reynolds and Finley Evans, both also nine, had gone for a simple method after experimenting with lots of ideas.

“Our group realised pasta shapes made it go a bit flubbery. Lemon isn’t very good because it stops it setting. And pineapple jelly doesn’t set really – it takes more than a day,” he said.

“So today we just tried normal strawberry jelly. We decided it was better with nothing in it.

“It started to get cracks in it when we poked it.”

Pupils from Acle won best overall entry.

IFR outreach co-ordinator Dee Rawsthorne said: “This is a way of teaching them a scientific method – it’s not just about having fun with jelly. It’s about thinking through the experiment and, in this case, why it has failed, because many don’t work.

“We’re teaching them food science, biology, physics and chemistry all in one – which often they don’t realise.”

The Tallest Jelly Competition coincides with today’s Schools Open Day at the IFR for pupils in year 10 and up.

A public open day will take place tomorrow from 10am to 4pm.

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