Children design sustainable railway system for Southsea

From left - Megan Webb, 8,  from Hook with Warsash Primary School with her fellow school pupil Olivia Swales
From left - Megan Webb, 8, from Hook with Warsash Primary School with her fellow school pupil Olivia Swales

PRIMARY school children have been taking part in technology challenge days to create a sustainable transport system for the city.

The pupils were given the brief of designing a model rail system for Southsea which could be powered by sustainable sources. The event was hosted over two days at Portsmouth High School where children were joined by girls from nine other schools. 

Francesca Duhig (left) and Phoebe Chapman (right) engineers and judges for competition

Francesca Duhig (left) and Phoebe Chapman (right) engineers and judges for competition

Event organiser and assistant head teacher Graeme Field said: ‘It is really important to embed an understanding of sustainable practices. Bournemouth Council have discussed the idea of a new monorail system and I have always thought it would be great if we could create a high level environmentally friendly system here.’

The children’s designs were judged by representatives from Portsmouth University and engineering company Lockheed Martin. A key focus is to develop an an interest in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and encourage girls to aspire to traditionally male dominated careers.

Judge and aerospace engineer Francesca Duhig said: ‘It instils in girls that engineering jobs are not just for boys.’

Fellow judge and software engineer Phoebe Chapman added: ‘We are still young females and it lets the girls see that if we can do it then so can they.’

Arabella West (left) and Verity Kidson (right) both aged 9.

Arabella West (left) and Verity Kidson (right) both aged 9.

The promotion of STEM learning was something which attracted schools to the event. ‘It is good to get the girls involved in technology and going through the design process of making things,’ said Scott Butler, teacher at St Jude’s.

‘I don’t think that technology based subjects are pushed enough with girls,’ added Trudy Sargeant, teaching assistant at Wimborne Junior School.

With names such as Dragon Star, Wave Flash and Dancing Dolphin, the designs incorporated a mix of solar, wind and wave power.

Portsmouth High School student, Verity Kidson, nine, said: ‘Our design is powered by the wind as exhaust fumes are bad for the environment.’

Assistant head teacher and event organiser Graeme Field

Assistant head teacher and event organiser Graeme Field

Fellow pupil Arabella West, nine, added: ‘It was great to meet with children from other schools. In the future I may want to be a scientist.’