Recently, 6 of our Year 8 students had the opportunity to take part in a STEM challenge. Rikki was one of the students involved. Here he outlines the day and what was involved in the challenge.

‘On the 19th September, 6 students from Northgate High School took part in an engineering event, the ‘Faraday Challenge’ at Neatherd High School. Our Chief Engineer, called Phil, gave us an introduction to how the event was going to work. All schools and teams (Northgate was team 1) that took part were shown our task for the day.

Our project was to design and make a model of a feature that could be added onto the James Webb Telescope. On our table, we had a pile of the currency known as Faradays (named after Michael Faraday). We would use this currency to purchase any materials or mechanics from a shop that was located at the back of the sports hall. These materials would be used to manufacture our prototype model that we decided to create. Phil revealed the grand prize was a beautiful glass trophy, and 6 x £10 Amazon gift vouchers, one for each of the winning team members.


Each school had 2 teams, but unfortunately, Northgate only had 1, so we were determined to work extra hard to win the reward! We saw a video explaining how the James Webb Telescope worked, and our team recognised that it wont function properly if any dust/dirt came into contact with it. We each got our roles from a sheet, and a sticker that had our name on and our role. The roles consisted of: Accountant (in charge of the Faradays), Project Manager (manages the project how it is supposed to work), and Diagnostics Engineer (sorts out any issues that the project may encounter).

Once we chose our desired roles, the team got to work on creating a filter that we designed to get rid of any dust particles that would come into contact with the telescope. After we explained how our design worked, and drew it out, the team then went to get the correct materials for our project. Each team had 120 Faradays to spend on their project. Between each hour, Phil would tell us to write an Event Log to explain how our project was going. Our filter worked as follows: dust particles get close to the telescope, an LED light detects the particles, which causes it to turn on. This also powers a fan at the bottom of the filter and blows away all the unwanted dirt away from the telescope.

After a few long hours of hard work, we built the fantastic filter, and tested it several times. Each test was rewarding, and the filter was a success! Lewis and I (Communication Officers) wrote out the presentation and practised it a few times before the real thing. Soon, the presentation came, and our team was outstanding compared to most of the other schools. The decider for the reward came and a team from Neatherd won. Although we didn’t win, the team did well and we all received a goody bag before we returned home.’


Lewis, one of the Communication Officers, said of his experience, ‘On the day we learnt lots of cool new things such as how to build an electrical circuit without batteries, instead using solar panels, and how to use resistors and LED lights. Overall the whole day was so good, especially when we got a certificate and goody bag all about the James Webb telescope. Our mini prototype could possibly help the telescope on the launch day in 2021! Although Northgate didn’t win, all of us went home happy as we attempted to help the telescope.’

Mr Logan, who attended with the team commented, ‘Our team gave an excellent presentation about their design and answered many technical questions about it. Although we didn’t win the competition, Northgate’s team were fantastic throughout the day and should be very proud of what they achieved.’ 

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