Volunteers Guide. IET DIY Faraday Challenge Day: Table Tennis Server

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1 Volunteers Guide

2 About IET Faraday Challenge Days IET Faraday Challenge Days are one day STEM activities designed for six teams of six students aged years, delivered in a set number of schools free of charge each year by the IET. These challenge days give students the opportunity to research, design and make prototype solutions to genuinely tough engineering problems. The Faraday Challenges bring science, design and technology, engineering and maths (STEM) together in an engaging way, encouraging the development of students problem solving, team working and communication skills. DIY Faraday Challenge Days The Faraday Challenge Days are in high demand, and the IET has created DIY Faraday Challenge Days to help meet the demand from schools wishing to participate. This resource comprises all the information schools need to run their very own challenge day, using items that are mostly readily available in schools. This activity has been designed to be led in-school by teaching staff; however the support of volunteers is vital to the successful running of the day. This guide outlines the ways in which IET Members, STEM Ambassadors and other volunteers can effectively support a DIY Faraday Challenge Day. A complete guide to the day is in the DIY Faraday Challenge Day Table Tennis Server Teachers Pack, available to download at and referenced throughout this guide. is one of a series of DIY Faraday Challenge Days, and is based on the Faraday Challenge of the same name from our 2008/09 season of Faraday Challenge Days. In this challenge students work in teams to design and make a prototype device that can serve as a table tennis ball four times and ensure it lands on the opposite side of the table consistently. 1

3 Image 1: Slide 2 from Introductory Presentation 2

4 Your role on the Day The day is organised into three sessions, and students are assessed on various criteria throughout the activity to determine the winning team. The suggested timings here may be changed by individual schools, and your role may vary depending on the needs of the teacher leading the day. Session one covers the all-important engineering brief and initial ideas stage. It is important that you see the initial presentation at the beginning of session one as this sets the context and explains the challenge. If you can t arrive in time, the Introductory Presentation available to download on the Faraday website has everything you need to know. During the initial ideas stage, until the scheduled break, there is little interaction between the students and teachers or other adults. It is important that the students come up with their own ideas and start working effectively as a team. For success on the day, they must have ownership over their ideas. This session is all about each team discussing and modelling ideas. However, it is also important that they do not start down a road of failure so you need to tread a fine line here to ensure they have a solution that has the potential to be successful and not giving them the answer. Image 2: Slide 12 from Introductory Presentation 3

5 Session two is when you should start asking questions such as: Why have you chosen that material? How does that work? How are you going to join the materials securely? What scientific principle do you need to think about here? Try and pose the question and allow the teams enough time to discuss them. Only offer the answer if you feel they are missing the point. This session is all about trialling, experimenting, manufacturing and working closely as a team. Session three focuses upon the fine tuning of their device. You should offer advice and guidance on how to improve their solutions at this stage (as long as it is only minor modifications, e.g. reinforcing joints or adding grips). If you feel a team is not going to succeed then step in and take over at this stage involve the whole team and get everyone making different components. It is difficult for a team to step up to the challenge and not achieve anything. If this is the situation the leaders of the event need to be told. Generating an atmosphere of challenge and pressure As the day progresses, it is always good to build up a sense of competition. One of the best ways to do this is to use countdowns to the next deadline. Say it with a smile and talk about some teams already being finished. The materials shop The shop is a key area and needs to be manned from 11.00am until 13.30pm. The teams have a price list with all the materials and equipment listed on it. If you are asked to man the shop you will need to: Make sure the materials are continually stocked and neatly presented If additional material is added to the shop you must price it up Keep a watchful eye on health and safety around the shop area and at the cutting station if it is nearby Decide on your strategy but remember to BE CONSISTENT o Are you going to allow a discount for bulk buying? o What if the teams barter with you? o Can they buy two for the price of one if, for example, the material is not selling? Fill in the Technician s accounting sheet (note down how much each team spends per visit to the shop). 4

6 Once the shop opens you may start asking why they need certain materials to try and ascertain whether they have really thought about which material is best for the job. If they buy large amounts e.g. four strips of MDF ask, why? Do not let them buy too much too soon, unless they can tell you exactly why they need it. Finally, be aware of how much stock you have behind the counter as you do not want to run out of any material. You may need to make a decision on how many of a certain item one team can buy. If there is a tie for first place, the deciding factor depends upon how much each team has spent, with the most economical team winning the top spot. Therefore, it is important to keep a good record, using the technicians accounting sheet, to act as a reference against the team s accounting sheet. Support the problem solving, don t solve the problem The day has been designed to promote team working skills and independence through the allocated roles and responsibilities. It is important that the students work in their teams with as little guidance or support from teachers or adults as possible. If you do talk to the teams, ask the why questions or what happens if rather than simply saying that won t work, do it like this. Feedback in the evaluations often states they have enjoyed the day so much because there was less teacher input than in normal lessons! Misbehaving students and disputes in teams Occasionally students do misbehave, and this is generally down to two reasons. One is that the challenge is simply too daunting for them and they decide not to engage. Secondly, misbehaving happens when a team isn t working well and the team leader starts to isolate a particular member. Speak to the teacher in charge as they will know the individuals concerned and they should guide you as to what action you may take. Team disputes happen when you get a number of strong (or weak) members and they can t come to a consensus to help them move forward. It s good to sit down and have a team talk, discuss all of the ideas and get the team leader to say why they have gone down the route that they have. You can then decide and discuss if that was the right decision, give them your opinion in terms of a design decision and then ask the team to vote again about choices. Emphasise that if it is a team decision, it is important that every team member respects that decision and works together towards a successful solution. 5

7 Further Information STEM understanding in students aged years Students will generally know very little about STEM and its value in the curriculum. They will find it hard to translate knowledge, skills and understanding from one STEM subject to another. It is important that you highlight as much as possible the connection between science, technology and maths. In addition, when students are asked to identify the science, technology and maths concepts in the challenge they do so in a very tokenistic manner, e.g. the maths is the measuring or the technology is the making. Try to dig deeper with the students and see if they can identify the value of each subject area to the challenge as a whole, for example, understanding the principles of levers or understanding ergonomics and how easy the device will be for the operator to use. Tips and examples of successful prototypes This challenge is about creating movement as the teams have to create a device that serves a ball from one side of a table to the other, accurately. The main considerations centre on applying enough force to the table tennis ball, consistently and therefore angle of trajectory, applying a constant force and calibration needs to be considered. Teams often don t consider how they use the material they have, for example they often use two or even three tubes to create the launch, without thinking about cost of the science needed to serve accurately. Image 3: Slide 10 from Introductory Presentation 6

8 A complicated device! A trebuchet type design with elastic to produce the force needed to launch the ball. The calibration down the side piece of MDF is a great idea as the teams can be assured some accuracy in the landing location. Construction is so important as the forces that need to be applied are high and the device needs to withstand these. Image 4: Slide 9 from Introductory Presentation A solution inspired by the game mouse trap. It does launch the ball a long way but the consistency is poor. The device could have been more effective but needs a rethink in terms of applying the right magnitude of force. 7

9 Image 5: Slide 11 from Introductory Presentation A really effective serving mechanism that is relatively simple so long as the teams have thought about the angle of the launching tube and consistency of the force being applied. It is therefore crucial to test the device out fully during session 3 in order to fine-tune the calibrations. This device has been designed with a turn-table for horizontal adjustment as well as having vertical adjustment too. You can view the videos of these 3 designs at A final note Be prepared to answer questions about your career and what you do. And don t forget to enjoy the day! 8

10 The IET DIY Faraday Challenge Day ' is based on the Faraday Challenge Day of the same name, a STEM activity day written and delivered by the Attainment Partnership on behalf of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). The IET Faraday website hosts a wide range of teaching resources for science, design and technology and maths. These include classroom activities with film clips, online games, posters, careers resources and STEM activity days. The Institution of Engineering and Technology IET Education 5-19 Michael Faraday House Six Hills Way Stevenage Herts SG1 2AY United Kingdom T: +44 (0) F: +44 (0) The Institution of Engineering and Technology is registered as a Charity in England & Wales (no ) and Scotland (no SC038698).

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