Thursday, 28 February 2013


"I could not have enjoyed it more!" exclaimed Cllr. Lavinia Sealy, Chairman of  Surrey County Council, upon visiting Holy Trinity C of E Primary School on Tuesday, where fifty-four Year 5s took part in a SATRO Mega-Structures Challenge. Cllr. Sealy was shown around the classrooms by the Head, Jon Hill, and chatted with pupils, staff and volunteers.

The children were divided into teams of about 6 and then set the task of designing and building a sports stadium. The structures were constructed out of A4 paper tubes, flattened at the ends and bolted together. SATRO volunteers, comprising of Engineers and experienced professionals, advised the children on their designs and helped them find the strongest type of structure.

The pupils were most inventive, with stadiums being at least dual purpose, eg, football and athletics. The winning team's stadium was an Aquatic Centre, featuring a swimming pool, diving board and diving pool - and was complete with raked seating, spectators, fast food outlets, toilets and parking spaces - all made out of paper!

Pupils' commented...
"I have a new fascination for science, engineering, maths and technology."
"I found and felt that engineering is not just building, it’s presenting and drawing and lots of hard work building prototypes.  It also helped me work in a team."

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


Another exciting heat of the Problem Solving Challenge took place on 25 February, this time at St. Philomena's School in Carshalton. Some 200 students divided into 34 teams competed in the heat which was sponsored by engineering consultants Mott MacDonald, whose employees were on hand to present awards at the end of the evening. 

The highest score in the 2013 event so far (223 points) was recorded by the Keystage 5 winning team from Overton Grange School who - along with the other winners and runners-up - now qualify for the Final at Charterhouse School on 21 March 2013.

The last of the five heats will take place at George Abbot School in Guildford on Wednesday 27 February.

Friday, 22 February 2013


Another 30 teams battled it out at the Heathside School, Weybridge heat of the SATRO 2013 Problem Solving Challenge, which took place on Thursday 14 February. 

Six more teams comprising the winners and runners-up of the three Keystage groups qualified for the final on Thursday 21 March, although the record score set at the previous St. Bede's heat was not surpassed. 

Congratulations to all the teams taking part, and a big thank you to our hosts at Heathside and to our hard-working team of judges under the leadership of Cliff Lilley who ensured that the event ran smoothly and efficiently.

We eagerly await the final two heats next week at St Philomena's School (Monday 25 February) and George Abbot School (Wednesday 27 February).

Monday, 18 February 2013


On 13th February over 200 year 10 students from both Glebelands and Thamesmead Schools separately gained an invaluable insight into the world of work when they took part in the SATRO Business Game. Teams of students became stationery companies for the day manufacturing booklets which they had to sell to a discerning panel of buyers. The game stretched their minds and abilities in a way they never thought possible. They had a myriad of business decisions to make as the game unfolded and were aided in their tasks by a number of business volunteers whose job it was to guide, support and encourage their teams as they got to grips with all the challenges inherent in running a business.

The stress levels were high as companies competed with each other to see who could make the most profit. Many valuable life skills were learnt with many students commenting, “How well organised the whole system was.” And, "I learnt business techniques to help me in life."

Our business volunteers also greatly enjoyed the experience with one stating – “Students were fully engaged and really enjoyed the day.  Learning was by doing rather than by being told or shown.  It was a chance for students to shine outside the classroom.”

Another resounding success for the SATRO Business Game.

Thursday, 14 February 2013


Pupils at Barnsbury Primary School in Woking had a Discovery Science day on 12th February where Years 2, 3 and 5 worked with SATRO engineers on a range of projects.  Year 2 learnt about simple electric circuits which were used to illuminate their lighthouses; Year 3 experimented with magnets and created a magnetic game; Year 5 became rocket “scientists” investigating pneumatics and hydraulics and launching their rockets 60ft into the air. 

Pupils enjoyed a fantastic day of learning with lots of opportunities to work co-operatively. 

“I liked learning about science, it was so interesting.”  “I understand science more.” “This has made me feel brainy.”  “This activity made me feel like a real scientist/engineer.”  “Before I wasn’t that interested in science, but now I really like it.”

Teacher comments included: “Improved their teamwork skills.” “Fabulous to have hands-on experience.” “The children all seem very enthusiastic to learn more about science and especially rockets.”

We are extremely grateful to the Woking Round Table who contributed towards the cost of the event.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


120 year 10 students at Gordon’s School in West End Woking got to meet a huge variety of business professionals yesterday during a frenzied 1½ hours of ‘Careers Speed Dating’.

The students were put into small groups and had 5 minutes to quiz their ‘business volunteer’, who was only allowed to answer yes or no thereby requiring the students to try and guess their professions. A further 5 minutes of frantic questioning followed to ascertain what they actually did for a living and how they had got where they were. A horn sounded and another ‘business volunteer’ from a different profession presented themselves for questioning.

It was fast, frenetic and enormous fun with the students commenting afterwards, “I enjoyed meeting all the business people and it has helped me discovoer what I need to do whan I grow up,” and, “I learnt that there are a lot of different jobs in one company, which could mean that you could get into a different, better career which you didn't know was there”. Additionally one of the students commented that, “I learned that there are endless possibilities and this opened my eyes to trying new things.”

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


Year 6 pupils at St Polycarp’s RC Primary School in Farnham discovered a winning formula for applying their maths skills.  Using a software program developed by CSH (Cambridgeshire Software House), the SATRO team worked with 16 teams to help them calibrate a virtual racing car in preparation for a competitive Grand Prix style race.  The children had to use a range of mathematical skills - measuring angles, multiplication, percentages, calculation of distance and speed – to create optimum performance for their car.  Test runs were carried out on laptops before the Grand Finale race took place in a highly competitive environment.

By the end of the day the children were very excited about maths:
I learned a lot about maths from my team.”  “I learnt that even in a sport they need maths to work things out.” “It has made me feel more confident as I managed to solve problems which I wouldn’t of done before.” “I used to think that maths was dull and boring but today I found that maths could be exciting and fun.”
The teachers agreed that this workshop provided excellent opportunities for maths, ICT and teamwork (PHSE) – “The activity helped the children apply their skills to a real-life event.”

We extend our thanks to Cllr Pat Frost, who part funded this event.

Friday, 8 February 2013


A focus on science was the key to a day of learning at Holmesdale Community Infant School in Reigate on 5th February.  Year 1 pupils explored movement through push and pull forces and how these work in everyday life, but particularly related to different playground equipment.  The children made roundabouts, swings and slides to illustrate how forces make objects move.  Year 2 investigated gravity, looking at how objects are pulled to earth, and then how to slow down objects through air resistance.  They made parachutes for an Egg Drop Challenge, in which they experimented dropping an raw egg in their hand-made carriers to see if the egg would remain intact.  Some 200 children participated in the day with the outcome that they all enjoyed it and want to do more science.
A teacher commented,
The children had a wonderful time and were very engaged. I was impressed with some of their comments, observations and predictions.”

Thursday, 7 February 2013


SCC Cllr, Dr Zully Grant-Duff attending
Furzefield Primary School

6th February saw a frenetic day of activity at Furzefield Primary School when three year groups, Years 4, 5 and 6, took part in SATRO’s Fun Maths workshop.  Working in pairs or threes, the pupils were presented with a range of mathematical puzzles to solve within a time limit.  The variety and graded levels of the puzzles enabled pupils of all abilities to participate, including some special needs children.  Comments received from the pupils included:
“It made me feel better about maths” “It has made me more excited to go to my lessons in maths!” 
The teachers were equally impressed with the new skills learnt by their pupils: teamwork, co-operation, perseverance, problem-solving, following instructions and reading a question carefully! The children learnt “how to think outside the box” was one of the teacher’s comments.

SCC Councillor Zully Grant-Duff very kindly donated funding towards these workshops.  The school was delighted to welcome Dr Grant-Duff for a short visit to see the Year 6 pupils applying their mathematical skills in a practical way. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


The SATRO 2013 Problem Solving Challenge got off to a flying start this week with the opening heats at Blenheim High School, Epsom, on 4th February and St. Bede's School, Redhill, on 5th February.  Some 30 teams - divided between Keystages 3, 4 and 5 - took part in each heat, and the challenge gave all participants a lot to think about in the 90 minutes allocated before the judges scored each of the solutions.

The Blenheim heat was generously sponsored by the Manly Trust, and Margaret Manly was on hand to present certificates to the teams with the highest scores in each group.

The winners and runners-up from each group will be invited to take part in the Challenge Final which takes place at Charterhouse School on Thursday 21st March.  The highest score to date has been recorded by the Keystage 5 team from Caterham School at the Redhill event; watch this space to see if this changes after the next heat at Heathside School on Thursday 14th February!