Downham Market, Methwold and Terrington pupils coining it in at technology tournament

The problem-solving skills of high school students and some of their teachers were pushed to their limits at a technology tournament.

Some 75 pupils from Downham Market, Methwold and Terrington St Clement high schools teamed up and took part in a practical task of designing and building a machine to sort 1p and 2p coins.

The one-day event was organised by the Downham Market Rotary Club and sponsored by BAE Systems, which has operations at nearby RAF Marham, and held in the Town Hall on Wednesday.

The majority of the 18 teams comprised of students aged between 12 and 14 but there were also three teams of sixth form students and one team made up of teachers.

Alan Culley, event organiser, said: 'Nobody knew what they were going to do before arriving so it was a complete surprise to everybody and, hopefully, it took them out of their comfort zone.


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'The teams tackled the challenge very well and there were some really imaginative solutions. This event, now in its second year, is all about teamwork and we hope the students learnt a lot about themselves.'

The teams were given two-and-a- half hours to make the coin sorter.

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Six judges, who included Lee Forbes, from Downham-based Forbes Technologies, and Ewan Lucie-Smith of BAE Systems, then put each team's finished model through its paces before trophies and certificates were presented to the winning team.

The winning design came from Luke Mitchell, Jason Chown, Troy Brown and Luke Marks from Terrington High School.

Mr Culley continued: 'Their idea was very elegant and simple and worked every single time.

'It was very robust, so much so that we could've taken it outside and sorted out other people's 1p and 2p coins in the street. Overall the judges were impressed with what they saw and said there were more models working compared to last year.'

Val Starling, the mayor of Downham Market, and Shelagh Hutson, chairman of Norfolk County Council, were among the special guests invited to see how the students got on.

Mr Culley added: 'The feedback from the staff is very positive and the schools are very enthusiastic about it becoming an annual event. We hope to open this tournament up to a fourth school next year.'

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