Eighty Year 8 students from eight different schools in Guildford, Woking and Carshalton have taken part in a bridge-building challenge, with a little help from regional construction firm Beard.  

The youngsters, aged 12 and 13, were taking part in educational charity SATRO’s Year 8 Construction Challenge at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford. The learning initiative aims to bring science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) lessons to life through fun, hands-on projects working with industry professionals, such as Beard. 

The schools taking part were Guildford High School for Girls, Guildford County School, Christ’s College and the Royal Grammar School, all in Guildford, as well as St John the Baptist in Woking, Ash Manor School in Ash, Heathside School in Weybridge and Carshalton Boys Sports College in Carshalton.

Split into groups of eight, each pupil was given a specific role and job to do – just as on a real construction site. Then, using rolled up paper, masking tape and nuts and bolts, the students had to design and build a model bridge able to span a 1.5 metre gap. The project involved each team pricing their project, buying their construction materials and making sure that their scheme was delivered in the most cost-effective way.

Representatives from Beard – which sponsored the event – were on hand to provide expert advice and guidance on construction techniques. 

At the end of the challenge, each bridge was tested with 500ml bottles acting as weights and judged on its performance, the team’s project management skills, design and cost-efficiency. The winning team was presented with a Beard ‘Construction Challenge Winners Pack’ which included high street shopping vouchers and Beard mugs and pens.

SATRO is one of three local charities selected by Beard’s Guildford staff to benefit from its £20,000 fundraising campaign, in celebration of the construction firm’s 125th business anniversary.

“These events are a fantastic way to show young people how exciting and rewarding a career in construction can be,” says Joachim Daniel, assistant quantity surveyor for Beard. “We have really enjoyed watching the students using their problem-solving skills and being creative. We strongly value our partnership with local charity SATRO, so much so that we’ve chosen it as one of our staff charities we’re fundraising for this year as part of our 125th business anniversary celebrations. I hope the students had fun building their bridges and that the challenge will encourage some to think about construction and engineering careers.”

"It was our great pleasure to partner with SATRO and Beard to host the Year 8 Construction Challenge," comments Tom Shimell, assistant head of partnerships at the Royal Grammar School Guildford. "It was fantastic to witness so many boys and girls from different schools working together to design and build their structures. The inherent stretch and challenge in the task combined with the focus on leadership, teamwork and problem-solving chime closely with our ethos here at the Royal Grammar School and we certainly hope to be able to host such inspirational events in the future. Everyone agreed that SATRO and Beard organised and led a fantastic programme so ‘thank you’ on behalf of all of the students who learned so much while having great fun."

Article supplied by Rebekah Spencer-Smith