Y6’s latest STEM Challenge started with a study of the country of Nepal, where crops growing in the fertile soil at the top of the mountains need to be transported to the local markets at the bottom of the mountains. In the past, crops might have been carried down the mountains in baskets, each treacherous journey down the steep paths taking up to 3 hours.
Y6 were also introduced to the 17 Global Goals (officially known as the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs). World leaders agreed to the goals in 2015. The intention is to create a better world by 2030, by ending poverty, fighting inequality and addressing the urgency of climate change. It is now up to all of us, governments, businesses, communities and the general public to work together to build a better future for everyone.
Y6 worked in engineering teams addressing Global Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) to find a way to help farmers in Nepal transport their tomatoes down the mountain to market. The aim was to transport the tomatoes quickly and efficiently, without bruising or squashing them, thereby enabling the local people to sell their produce and maximise their income to support their families.
Following the Engineering Design Process, Y6 designed and then built their solution, developing their understanding of forces and pulleys as they constructed a gravity ropeway. Through creative thinking, collaboration and teamwork, they resolved problems as they arose and tested and refined their models over the course of two lessons. Finally, they presented their models to their peers and explained their reasoning. The children peer-assessed each group’s model before completing a final evaluation of their own product.
The STEM lessons ‘buzzed’ with productivity and a sense of purpose. Ambitious designs were devised and exciting models constructed. The children recognised one potential career path as future engineers and problem solvers, discussed their responsibilities as global citizens and developed their understanding of world issues.