The Greater Manchester Engineering Challenge (GMEC)

An annual opportunity for young people between 7-13 years to experience engineering first hand and for teachers to take part in a bespoke training programme.

Congratulations to all of the teachers, pupils, engineers and sponsors for making GMEC 2020 such a success!

“It’s been a fantastic opportunity for our pupils to communicate with other schools, and other pupils from different backgrounds; and particularly showing them what engineering is like, showing them the aspirational side of engineering. The teamwork is just brilliant and I think it’s been a fantastic day, giving a lot of opportunities to our pupils.” – Teacher, participating school, GMEC 2020

This year’s Greater Manchester Engineering Challenge (GMEC) culminated in an event in the impressive surroundings of The University of Manchester’s Whitworth Hall on 11th March 2020. Involving 140 primary and secondary pupils from 18 Greater Manchester Schools. The pupils showcased the research undertaken at school before taking part in a large, hands-on engineering challenge.

ExtraOrdinary Spaces – the 2020 Civil Engineering Challenge

This year the pupils, mainly from schools in areas of social disadvantage, were involved in learning about the engineering design process to create a plan for new community living space. Based on a real space near Medlock Primary School in Oldham, the pupils were involved in researching and integrating as many sustainable features as possible, whilst also taking into account the health, wellbeing and economical needs of the people who may live and work there. Working with industry partners – Jacobs Engineering, Siemens, Bruntwood, Class of Your Own and Maggie’s Oldham, pupils furnished large maps with their design ideas, using a range of Engineering Habits of Mind including Systems Thinking, Creative Problem Solving and Problem Finding.

Teachers were also supported through a bespoke professional learning programme designed by the Science & Engineering Education Research and Innovation Hub. An Immersion Day in December 2019 enhanced their awareness of engineering in the city of Manchester, 3D modelling software – TinkerCad, civil engineering as a profession and the knowhow they would need to involve their pupils in preparing for the Challenge event.

100% of the teachers reported that they had learned something new to improve their teaching and work practices with science and engineering.

The GMEC Challenge! Creating a 3D ExtraOrdinary Space using civil engineering-in-practice

Key features of the event:

  • GMEC Pupil Showcase An opportunity for pupils to share their project and view the work of others – being inspired and stealing a few ideas on the way!
  • Applied Maths - learning about scale and proportion A specifically designed task encouraged pupils to apply their knowledge about proportion and scale – key features of the challenge task. This demonstrated how mathematical skills were inherent in the engineering process, and specifically civil engineering. Each member of the school group, including teachers, were tasked to create a paper, scale model of themselves, which were then used in the 3D model.
  • The Big Build - Civil Engineering – using architectural designs to make real spaces that work! A collective 3D build including 50 quadrants towards a most ExtraOrdinary Sustainable Living Space!

Take a look at the amazing GMEC Time Lapse film created to see how the build came together.

Click here to see tweets on the day: #GMEC2020

Would your pupils benefit from this type of experience?

We’ll be releasing information about GMEC 2021 as soon as it’s available. Register here to ensure you receive up to date information as it's released. Registration is free and does not tie you into anything at this stage.

Designed and developed by The Science and Engineering Education Research and Innovation Hub (SEERIH)

GMEC is based on the Tinkering for Learning Research programme (The University of Manchester in partnership with The Royal Academy of Engineering). Find out more and learn how you can support young people in the Engineering Design Process and Engineering Habits of Mind.

With thanks to GMEC 2020 sponsors - Oldham Council and The University of Manchester, working together as part of the Oldham STEM Opportunity Area’s commitment to drive improvement in STEM learning and achievement.

The project team

  • Dr Lynne Bianchi the one that keeps the plates spinning
  • Dr Jon Chippindall the creative engineering mind
  • Julie Wiskow and Rose Edmondson fabulously inspiring teacher champions

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