Hell-o from the 'Otter' Si-iiiiide

Our Winners!

Our 'Education and Industry STEM Programme' Team are constantly amazed by the ingenuity and creativity of Essex students, displayed at things like our Key Sector Taster Days, in our Royal Institution Computer Science and Engineering Masterclasses and throughout the various project and competition activity that we work with partners to deliver. And this was particularly true at the finale of the Colchester Zoo Engineering Competition, held at the Zoo itself last week (28th June)!

The sun was beating down as teams began to arrive in the Zoo's Kalahari Theatre carrying their prototypes and memory sticks ready to present to our panel of judges. Way back in October teams representing Philip Morant, The Gilberd, Clacton County High School, St. Benedicts, Thurstable, Woodlands and Alec Hunter Academy were asked to choose between two briefs set by the team at Colchester Zoo, according to which they would then devise a prototype to present to judges in the form of a demonstration and presentation. Teams could choose between creating an enrichment system for the Otter enclosure or an automated locking system for the Guineafowl exhibit. All of our competing teams chose to work on the Otter-related brief. We're thankful as ever to staff at Flaktwoods and C-Truck(Colchester) and Bertrandt UK (Basildon) for the support they gave to teams throughout, helping students tackle issues and make improvements to their designs.

We were delighted to welcome Adam Ward from Colchester Institute and Ashley Phillips from Maycast Nokes on the day too. Adam and Ashley opened the event, talking to our teams about engineering courses at CI and how Ashley came to be working in the sector after pursuing the Apprenticeship route. They then joined Andy Moore - from the Zoo's Education Team - to make up our judging panel.

With the running order pre-determined, teams took turns to stand up in front of the audience and judges to present their design. Each and every team amazed us with the confidence they displayed to get up there in front of a large audience and with the quality of their presentations. Special mention must go to Clacton County High's sole representative (other team members were attending their end of year Prom!), who stood up at the front of the theatre and delivered a confident presentation all by herself! At the end of teams' presentations our judges retired, faced with a fantastically hard decision to make to crown this years' winning team. Here are just a few of our entries on the day:


In feeding back to teams, our judges talked about how impressed they had been with the designs and corresponding presentations. Teams had done a wonderful job taking the audience through some of the issues they'd faced throughout the design process and how they'd tackled them, and talked about how they'd used their budget carefully to produce a working prototype.

But of course there could only be one winner, and Andy, Adam and Ashley were delighted to announce that the winning team for the 2018 Colchester Zoo Engineering Project was the team representing Thurstable School, with last year's winners from the Gilberd School being awarded second place. The win caps a great year for Thurstable, with some team members also having been part of their win at the ADS Build a Rocket regional final back in March!

We would like to thank Andy Moore and his team at Colchester Zoo for helping us to deliver this wonderful competition and hosting us on the day, all of the industry volunteers that have been part of the competition in some way, and of course all of the students and school staff that have given so much of their time over the last year to produce such amazing entries!