Teams from five Surrey secondary schools arrived at Nescot College on March 23 to design and build the best water supply network to transfer water across tricky terrain, to a network of waiting customers.
The timely challenge, launched as the region prepared for hosepipe bans after low winter rainfall, is part of Sutton and East Surrey Water’s education initiative and highlights the value of water as a resource while raising awareness of the challenges involved in supplying a growing population during drought conditions.
Using a board incorporating changes of terrain and environment and customers requiring water, pupils were given an adjustable height water tower, pipework, valves and water storage units. Working within a fixed budget they were then required to design and build a reliable, cost effective water supply network.
With Amazon vouchers and goodie bags due to be presented to the winners by Epsom and Ewell MP Chris Grayling, working models began to take shape.
And with the deadline looming for the water being turned on, engineers from the water company were on hand to answer questions and give advice.
‘It’s been great to meet the pupils and have a chance to explain that engineering is about much more than maths and construction. They seem to have really enjoyed it and if just one of them here today is attracted to a career in engineering, it will have been very worthwhile for me,’ said Sutton and Surrey Water Engineer Kevin Shilling.
‘This challenge is just like what we do in miniature. It’s always nerve wracking once the water is turned on and you get to see if your design works,’ he added.
All the teams’ designs held water presenting a dilemma for judges Chris Grayling, Nescot Principal Sunaina Mann and Sutton and Surrey Water MD Anthony Ferrar.
‘Everyone has really got to grips with the challenges we face in making sure the region has a high quality water supply,’ said Anthony Ferrar, I’m very impressed with the work we’re seeing here today.
‘I suspect many of you did not realise how much work goes into ensuring that water comes out when you turn on a tap at home. I also hope some of you may consider water engineering as a future career,’ he added, before thanking the pupils for their ‘fantastic team efforts’.
With a team from Sutton Boys Grammar named as overall winners and each presented with £20 Amazon vouchers for their efforts, the teams from Stanley Park High, Wallington County Grammar, Greenshaw High, and Wallington High for Girls also received goody bags and £10 Amazon vouchers for providing such stiff competition.
Congratulating the pupils on their achievement Chris Grayling told the room: ‘Well done to you all for some pretty impressive engineering today. I think you have learned some valuable skills for future career building.
‘This is a really good initiative and I congratulate Sutton and East Surrey Water and Nescot for coming together to organise this event.’
Aimed at secondary school Year 9 students, the Water Supply Challenge is a cross-curricular activity that involves aspects of cost-budgeting maths, science, planning, geography, design and technology, and more. Challenges can be tailored to a school’s requirement, and typically last around two hours.
The Water Supply Challenge was originally conceived by Thames Water and Anglian Water, and has been further developed by Sutton and East Surrey Water Water’s education co-ordination team.
Teachers seeking more information about the Water Supply Challenge should contact Sutton and East Surrey Water’s education co-ordinator Jo Hedges on 07824 635581.