2008 Award Winners

Engineering New Zealand is proud to announce the 2008 winners of the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineer’s Awards. These awards promote engineers and students working together on practical projects in the school and community as well as providing a creative way to enhance the technology curriculum. Every year the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineer’s Awards gives prizes to the best and most innovative collaboration between students, teachers and volunteer engineers.

2008 Award Winners

2008 Merit Awards

Beachlands Primary, Auckland

New entrants to year 2 used Six Thinking Hats to think how they could enjoy their too ‘cool pool’ more.

The identified problems:

  • Pool was exposed to wind
  • Too cold to stay in for a whole lesson
  • It takes too long to get in and on with the lesson
  • Parent notes excusing children on cloudy days
  • Being a coastal community, swimming is an essential skill

Students developed skills in:

  • Taking temperature readings
  • Drawing plan ideas
  • Seeking information from other schools with pool covers
  • Seeking advice from experts
  • Finding out who they needed permission from
  • Raising money
  • Pool safety
  • Environmental friendliness

Teacher’s comment:
“Feedback from parents has been very positive.  They were impressed that we introduced Technology through the career pathway of an Engineer […] Using real tools, and learning about new tools that Amy [Clore] introduced for measuring, added to the importance of our task. Amy is a good role model showing that Engineering is no longer a male dominated industry and available to all genders.”

Engineer’s comment:
“It was great to work with a teacher like Mrs. Cullen who led the students on additional activities for this project outside my classroom visits. One of the best things I enjoyed about working with this class was reaching the goal of heating the pool. ” Amy Clore.

Milford Intermediate, Auckland

Senior children of Milford school tackled the problem of investigating and producing a workable plan for developing ‘shade areas’ in which children would be able to eat their lunches or play in summer by:

  • Deciding on the most popular area
  • Working with engineers Carolyn Simpson and Richard Powles through the processes of measuring, drawing and scale models.
  • Assembling a proposal to the Board of Trustees with the preferred shade cloth sample, council letters, costing and models.

Students developed skills in:

  • Writing, conducting and analysing surveys
  • Co-operation
  • Measurement
  • Letter writing
  • Proposal writing
  • Time management
  • Safety issues
  • Project evaluation

Teacher’s comment (Linda Vane):
“It has shown the children how mathematics, technology and various forms of communication have real life functions, and when they all come together there are very real practical solutions to problems and challenges.”

Engineer’s comment:
“I enjoyed working with the students and explaining our engineering concepts in a way that the students could grasp and understand, in such a way that they could then use them themselves. This was great to see. When I would arrive at a new session the students would be pleased to show me the work that they had done since the last session. This was a great experience to work with the technologists of the future and to see them enjoying solving real-world problems using new and existing skills. I would recommend this opportunity to other young engineers.” Richard Powles

Otumoetai College Tauranga

Senior student Kevin Anderson had clients who needed a way to charge some batteries which could operate small devices and appliances so that their camping trip could be turned into a maximum of two and a half weeks.

Challenges to solve:

  • This device would have to be designed for a wide range of locations and terrains
  • Affordability
  • Practicality (weight and weather proof)
  • Achievable
  • Safe
  • Eco friendly

The end result was a ‘portable wind turbine’.

Client’s comment:
“I am very happy with the quality of work that Kevin has produced and I firmly believe the device has thoroughly solved my issue.”

Teacher’s comment:
“To make a fully functional wind powered generator from scratch was an enormous achievement for Kevin and he should be very proud of his work.”
“The main driving force behind this was his work with his Engineering New Zealand professional engineer….his office was within walking range of school; this was a great advantage as it meant that Kevin had easy access to his expert…He would often pop up to consult with Brian during his allocated technology lessons.” Ian Watson

Engineer’s comment:
“This project is very challenging for a secondary school student.  It is an interesting mix of mechanical and electrical/electronic engineering, both academic and practical, and Kevin applied himself to each aspect with a high level of skill and awareness.”
“It has been very rewarding mentoring Kevin in the design and construction of this project. There was great satisfaction in seeing seeds of information that I provided flourish at an amazing rate, and it was a thrill to see the photographs of the finished product and to hear that it worked!” Brian Jackson

Onehunga Primary, Auckland

Year 2 and 3 students with teacher Namrata Ghadiyar, identified issues in the school environment that children thought could be improved. Using a Problem Solving Grid, they identified a ‘slippery slope’ area.

The children learnt to:

  • Design and undertake a survey including students and parents.
  • Analyse the results
  • Decide on the most popular solution
  • Measure like an engineer
  • Make accurate recordings

The next step:
To find the cost of making the fence and present it to the Board of Trustees for approval.

Engineer’s comment:
“I was very impressed by these bright young 8 year old minds.  They always attacked the problems at hand with great enthusiasm and the success of the project can not only be measured by the physical results […] but more so in the many things they have been able to learn along the way. Many of the skills that we needed to use to help solve the problem were things that the children had already had exposure to in their class lessons…The ‘thinking group’ of R.10 should be highly commended for the effort they have put into tackling this problem and demonstrating abilities beyond their years.” Randall Ah Mu

Sunnybrae Normal School North Shore

‘Problems at the Front Gate’ project involved the design of new systems to create a safer and more efficient environment for student movements in and out of the school at peak times.
Students identified what the biggest problem was by:

  • observing
  • photographing
  • recording parent/child/vehicle behaviour at the gate.

Students developed skills in:

  • devising several clever potential and detailed solutions
  • finding high impact/low cost solutions
  • being creative
  • writing notices in newsletters

Teacher’s comment:
“Although the group has not been able to carry out their final solution it is hoped that some of the students will be involved with the council initiative next year and the extensive work already completed will be of some benefit.” Mary Waters

Engineer’s  comment:
“An influential aspect of the project was that it was known from the start that there was very little funding for a potentially costly project.  As a result of this it affected the design process and created a driver for the students to come up with innovative and cost effective solutions. It was very positive to see that the final solutions were high impact, low cost solutions.” Simon Baker

Kopuarahi School, Thames

Year 4-6 students and their teacher Sue Webster wanted to have a space for their own pottery studio. After a lot of research and hard work they were able to create a studio out of an old vacant school shed.

In the process the students learned to:

  • Ask questions of potters
  • Find out from another potter about the requirements for a studio
  • Think carefully about what they needed the space to do
  • Make decisions
  • Negotiate

As a result the students now have:

  • Experienced activity–based learning
  • Learned about getting quotes before a job is undertaken
  • Enjoyed working with an engineer
  • A pottery studio

Teacher’s comment:
“Activity–based learning is an important part of teaching. Technology projects such as this provide for authentic learning to take place.  The children understand and see the reality of technology because what they’re doing is real.”

Engineer’s comment:
“The children are rightfully proud of their project.  The leadership given by the teacher has been tremendous.  She has guided the children but at the same time allowed them to “own” the project.  For a small school with limited resources, the outcome of the project has been excellent.  They have built a facility that will be of ongoing value to the school and future children. Well done!” Adrian de Laborde

Orewa Primary, Auckland

The students from year 5-6 were challenged to ‘develop the unusable’ and make an undeveloped area a place where children could both learn and play.
The students set about:

  • Talking with the engineer
  • Discussing the problem of drainage
  • Assessing the area for its gorse and unusability
  • Measuring the area
  • Drawing the area
  • Finding maps of the area
  • Working out the engineering symbols
  • Taking photos of the area
  • Drawing scale maps in their books
  • Designing a survey
  • Writing a note in the newsletter

As a result of all this work, the students:

  • Made decisions about the best ideas
  • Researched garden centres 
  • Worked with a builder using ‘Google Sketch Up’
  • Made scale models of the area
  • Met with a landscape gardener
  • Presented their ideas to the School Board

Teacher’s comment:
“The group has gained a huge amount of practical knowledge relating to building, gardening and designing.  They have had a chance to apply many skills, particularly maths and language. Most significantly, they have gained valuable insight into how a project moves from conception to completion in the real world.” Angelique de Jong

Engineer’s comment:
“I started working with room 9 in May by presenting to them a short slide show explaining what I do as a Structural Engineer, and a little bit about engineering as a career. This showed me how little the year 5-6’s knew about engineering. I was also amazed at the length of time the enthusiastic yet-to-become engineers were willing to sit and listen to me; this was very motivational for me as it proved how
interesting my job is.” Julie Brooks

Cambridge High, Cambridge

Senior student Jake Martin developed and is improving a pilot plant to make a gaseous fuel for engines from a bio-mass feed stock. The plant includes a pyrolysis chamber, a fluidised bed, and a heat exchanger which dries the biomass using the waste heat from the engine, which drives an induction motor converted into an electric generator.

Teacher’s comment:
“We have made our workshops and facilities available to him, and also allowed him to use any materials we have in stock.  We have not purchased any specialist items he may have needed. Steve and Pete, our two Engineering teachers, have given him training in how to set up and use workshop equipment correctly and safely, but all of us freely admit to not giving any technical advice as his level of knowledge is way above ours.” Paul McCloud

Engineer’s Comment:
“So what can I say but, ‘well done Jake’, you’ve helped to convince me that we have some great talent coming through the education system, with ideas and passion too. Don’t listen to those that say our education system isn’t producing people of great innovative capacity and zeal for discovery, I know of one at the very least.” Dr Dean Barker

Otumoetai College Tauranga

Student Chris Peck undertook to design and make an ‘automatic gate opener’ to meet the needs of his rurally situated clients.
Factors needing consideration were:

  • Performance requirements
  • Alternatives (e.g. power source, methods of operation, types of motors, controls etc.)
  • Acquisition of design data (gate opening torque, effect of wind, operating time, strength of components)
  • Ergonomics. It had to be simple but efficient.
  • Durability
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Constructability

Teacher’s comment:
“Chris has learnt a lot during this year not only in the areas of technology and engineering but also in the non-curriculum areas such as communication with adults, project planning, setting and meeting deadlines, quality control, electronic design, and mechanical design. His practice was also made more difficult when his stake holders wanted two gates rather than one, which doubled his workload.” Ian Watson

Engineer’s comment:
“I enjoyed watching Chris approach problems, seek advice and then follow through to his own conclusions. The project is well thought out, especially constructability.”
“The school has gained by the growth Chris has shown in his analytic ability and his thinking as well as hands on experience.  Chris brings to the school new experiences, especially of engineering as a practical profession, and can relate this to his colleagues. The experience is practical and he has been able to apply his learning as well as learn new things, all of which improve his life skills in general and his academic abilities in particular.” John Marsden