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Schools set to battle it out for big cash prizes after launch of the Young Engineers Challenge 2018

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Young students in science and engineering at a Fylde coast school have helped launch a prestigious competition with a big cash prize.

This will be the sixth year of The Gazette Young Engineers Challenge which is sponsored by Centrica and Cuadrilla Resources and facilitated by Blackpool and The Fylde College.

Francis Egan from Cuadrilla, Year 8 pupil Kyle Dixon, Tim Lemon from Blackpool and The Fylde College and headteacher Phil Wood

Francis Egan from Cuadrilla, Year 8 pupil Kyle Dixon, Tim Lemon from Blackpool and The Fylde College and headteacher Phil Wood

Lytham St Annes High Technology College is the current holder of The Gazette’s Young Engineers Challenge and the school won £10,000 after excelling in the competition earlier this year.

Now the college is preparing for the next annual competition which will take place in January next year and will see up to 26 schools from across the Fylde coast battle it out for the cash prizes, which go towards improving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) facilities in winning schools.

Lytham St Annes High triumphed in a tricky ‘blind’ challenge to design, build and then fly a propeller-driven aircraft from a boxful of materials including balsa wood, rubber bands, glue and blu-tack.

They demonstrated their STEM skills by preparing designs that showed scientific knowledge of symmetry, balance and elevation, without any teacher assistance, and their aircraft proved the most successful in terms of distance and accuracy.

Headteacher PhilWood says the school was hugely delighted to win the competition, and that the children should be very proud of themselves.

The huge prize of £10,000 has made a massive difference to the school’s science facilities in the classrooms.

Head of STEM Jamie Howard explained that the school purchased four 3D printers which has enabled students to have a more hands-on experience in the classroom.

Also the Crumble Kits, electronic controllers which can be programmed for a variety of functions, have provided a valuable transition phase for Year 7 students, while the high-tech Arduino Kits allow older students to pursue industry standard levels in manufacturing.

The win has increased students’ interest in science subjects and their STEM club has increased in numbers since last year. The school is looking forward to competing in the 2018 Challenge and defending their title.

Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan was at Lytham St Annes High for the launch of the 2018 competition and said: ‘We are delighted to be a part of this competition once again and encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers.

“For me it is all about the children taking part. Every year the standard gets better and better and the students gain skills which they can take out of the classroom and use in the real world.

They learn to work in teams and most of all have fantastic fun seeing what they can achieve.’

Tim Lemon, Executive Director of Commercial Strategy at B&FC, said: “We’re extremely proud to be hosting the Young Engineers competition for the sixth year, as producing skilled workers for industry is something we are renowned for at B&FC.

“It was great to see last year’s winning students working on the equipment which was bought with the prize money and our engineering team is already working hard on finalising this year’s challenge. Good luck to everyone who enters.”

Details of the 2018 task ahead for the students are being closely guarded.

The competition will once again be a ‘blind’ challenge and full details only revealed to the students at the qualifying event at Blackpool and The Fylde College on February 26 in the Advanced Technology Centre.

The most successful schools will be invited back to take part in the final on March 2nd when one school will walk away with the £10,000 prize.

In addition to the main £10,000 competition, another element of the challenge is the STEM Champions competition, where students have the opportunity to showcase their Stem Club activities to a panel of judges, with £2,000 in prize money up for grabs.

This will take place at Blackpool and The Fylde College on Friday January 19.

To register your school for the Young Engineers Challenge and the STEM Champions competition, call The Gazette promotions team on 01253 361709.