Friday, 22 March 2013


A thought that might have been going through the minds of Year 5 pupils at Cordwalles Junior School as they spent a morning building water rockets.  The aim of the session was to learn about pneumatics and hydraulics through practical application.  Once the models were completed, the children concentrated on predicting how far their rocket might travel.  Excitement mounted as "launch" time approached.  The pupils were not disappointed as they watched the rockets fly towards the sky at distances further than they had estimated.  Lots of 'oohs' and 'aaghs' could be heard with each rocket launch, the session providing an excellent learning experience for the children, as well as lots of fun. 
A pupil commented, “I already love science but this activity has made me think more about taking up science or doing it as an A level.”


On the evening of 21 March, some 170 students from 26 schools in Surrey and its environs converged on the Hall at Charterhouse School, Godalming for the much-anticipated final of the 2013 SATRO Problem Solving Challenge.  The teams, all of whom were winners and runners-up from five area heats that took place in February, were set a challenge to build a device powered by an electric motor that would descend a gentle slope as quickly as possible.

The winning teams from Heathside, Prior's Field, St George's College and Overton Grange were awarded medals, certificates and a cash prize for their school.  Results were announced by television personality Jon Tickle, and among those present to congratulate the teams were the High Sheriff of Surrey, Mrs Karin Sehmer, the Mayor and Mayoress of Waverley, and two of the events sponsors: Margaret Manly from the Manly Trust, and Andy Milton from Frazer-Nash Consultancy.

We're proud that SATRO has once again inspired students to use initiative, creativity and teamwork in an event that celebrates the National Science & Engineering Week.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Children at The Vale Primary School, Epsom enjoyed a day of science workshops on 20th March.  180 pupils were involved in investigating Forces through different activities: forces in the playground, pulleys, pneumatic monsters and water rockets.  Led by the SATRO team, the children applied their knowledge and skills by making working models.  This visual way of demonstrating how forces move objects is a great way to bring science to life; it also makes connections for the children with the world around them.  Pupils commented...
"I learned that science is used in many different jobs." 
I have learnt a lot more about science.  I really like it and really liked doing rockets.  It was AMAZING!!! "
Our sincere thanks go to Surrey County Councillor Chris Frost for fully funding this event.


Parents went back to school at Westfield Primary School in Woking  on 19th March when they attended a Parents’ Evening with a difference.  30 pupils from Years 3-6,  each supported by a parent, were challenged to make a shelter in which they could sit or stand.  Parents got stuck in lending a hand with making paper sticks, thinking creatively and offering construction advice.  An initial presentation by Paul Morgan from Atkins introduced the children to the concept of engineering and how it is applied in the working world.  The teams of 3 children/3 adults then had 1.5 hours in which to design and build their structures – all the models were brilliant and some even large enough to accommodate the adult members of the team as well! 

Great fun was had by all and the event provided an opportunity for “engaging parents with children AND school".

One pupil enthused: “This evening has made me crazy about engineering."

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Year 5 pupils at Liphook Junior School were set the challenge of designing and building a model sports stadium.  Working in teams of six to a deadline, they had to choose a sporting event and build an appropriate structure as a venue.  The structures were made from paper sticks, which the team members had to manufacture themselves, and then deploy their engineering skills to complete their model.  The afternoon session involved creating and delivering a presentation on how they tackled the task.  90 children participated in the day, each team creating a unique structure; all were proud of their models and felt that they had learnt a great deal about forces and working together.  The teachers were delighted with the workshop and commented... 
“The Mega-Structures day was fantastic - the children absolutely adored it, and... not one child was off-task for a moment they were so involved in their learning."

Monday, 18 March 2013


Do you find that commercial breaks spoil your viewing pleasure? A team from The Magna Carta School have designed and developed their 'Splat App' to help – allowing you to shoot the major irritants (eg, a well-known insurance-promoting opera singer) with eggs or tomatoes. It also made them overall winners of the CISCO Red Button Challenge when it was judged against apps from another nine schools on 15th March in Spelthorne Council Chamber. Teams from St Andrew’s School, Broadwater School and Blenheim High School were category winners.

Sunday, 17 March 2013


... went 25 water rockets, all beautifully decorated by Year 2 pupils at Ewhurst Infant School.  Held on 14th March this workshop was led by SATRO Associate Peter Stables, who demonstrated the force of air compression in a very visual way. Much excitement was generated as each rocket was launched and the children tried to predict which one would go the furthest.

Thanks to funding by Cllr Steve Cosser and the CP Charitable Trust the pupils were able to enjoy a valuable and memorable learning experience.

Friday, 15 March 2013


Ripley Court School pupils enjoyed a fun day of maths and science on 13th March when a SATRO team delivered 3 sessions of Fun Maths to Years 3-8 and a session on Pulleys to Year 2. The fast-paced Fun Maths workshop tested the children's knowledge and skills in a practical way as teams of 3 worked together to solve as many puzzles as possible in a time limit. The Pulleys activity provided an opportunity to introduce Forces with a demonstration of how a pulley rig can lift a heavy object. Using the theme of 'Incy Wincy spider' the children made winding mechanisms to pull their spider up a Pringles tube drainpipe. In total 240 children participated during the day.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Rosebery School Peer Mentoring Scheme

On Wednesday 6th March we held the first workshop for six Year 12 students from Rosebery School, Epsom to train as peer mentors for Year 8 students at the school. The event was hosted by Atkins Global, the world-wide engineering consultancy company.

The girls participated in an inter-active training event where they learned about the different skills required to be a mentor plus put into practice the 3-stage ‘Skilled Helper’ model where they help a mentee to identify issues or concerns that they want to work on, brainstorm different solutions and then decide which one suits them best. The final stage is to devise an action plan to achieve their goals.

This is an exciting new venture for the school which will bring many benefits by developing many new skills for the Mentors which will help as they make their university applications and beyond; the Year 8 mentees will receive support from people who speak the same language as them and can relate to many of the issues and concerns they have; plus the school will benefit from having engaged and motivated students plus offer this new scheme to develop leadership opportunities.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


Three of Surrey’s Nuffield Research students are among the 50 from the whole country who are exhibiting at this weekend’s Big Bang Science Festival in London.  They are:
  • Oliver Page, Royal Grammar School - The future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
  • David Rapley, Tiffin School - Red Sky at Night, Arabidopsis Delight: The Role of Light on Cell Division and Growth
  • Benjaman To, Wilson's School - Can we stop kidney failure and bring hope to thousands?

Monday, 11 March 2013

From little acorns... budding scientists grow!

Funding from sponsors enabled two infant schools to hold science workshops last week for their Year 1 and 2 pupils to encourage enquiry skills.

Farncombe Infant School chose Floating and Sinking for Year 1 children, in which they explored the different properties of materials.  Year 2 were introduced to the concept of gravity and made simple parachutes to test how objects can be slowed down. In total, 80 children took part and the event was kindly funded by Cllr Steve Cosser.  One pupil commented...
Science is fun and exciting!

Thorpe Infant
pupils experimented with pneumatics in a creative way - dragons was the theme!  Using a variety of everyday objects the children designed and built an array of awesome creatures with moving parts.  60 children enjoyed learning about science in this fun way. Our thanks go to the CP Charitable Trust, which sponsored this event.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Recognition for SATRO's Innovation!

We are absolutely delighted to have been short-listed for this year's Toast of Surrey Award for Social Enterprise - the judges told us they were really impressed by our passion to inspire young people, the innovative work of the mobile classrooms area of our business in particular and the huge impact we are having on young people who otherwise might drop out of the education system altogether.

A big, big thank you to all SATRO's fantastic staff - and to all the business sponsors who support the running costs of our Mobile Classrooms (Willmott Dixon in particular in 2012-13) to enable around 400 students every year not only to achieve qualifications in construction skills, but also to rekindle their self-confidence by experiencing success.

Well done everyone!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Reigate Grammar Top Maths Challenge

175 AS-level students were kept busy at the Surrey Schools Maths Challenge late on Wednesday 6th March. Held this year on World Maths Day, this is the 11th time we have run the challenge with the University of Surrey. While the teams efforts were marked, the university’s Professor Mark Roberts gave an insight into what it is like to study Maths as a degree. And, lecturer Jock McOrist described his path from surf-loving high school in Australia via Sydney and Cambridge to Guildford. This year’s top-scoring team was from Reigate Grammar School.

Global Trading Comes to Ewell

24 year 5 pupils (10/11 year olds) from Riverview Primary School in Ewell had a harsh lesson this morning, quickly realising that global trading is deeply unfair!

The children were broken down into six countries representing rich/emerging & poor countries of the world and tried to generate wealth for their ‘countries’ by making paper shapes which had a currency they could then bank. The poor countries had lots of raw materials (paper) but no technology and the rich countries had all the technology but limited raw materials. The rich countries quickly began manufacturing but were unwilling to trade their technology for the raw materials they needed thereby ensuring the poor countries remained poor. There were many cries of ‘it’s not fair’ to be heard and many appeals to the United Nations Representative in the form of one of SATRO’s Managers.

A de-brief following the game highlighted the plight of the cocoa farmers in Ghana and the fact that out of a £1 bar of chocolate the farmers only receive 7p with the rest going to the two Governments in tax, the manufacturers and the retailers which the children thought was deeply unfair.

A powerful and thought provoking game for all concerned.

Monday, 4 March 2013


St Bede's Primary School in Send held a Fun Maths workshop for their KS2 pupils on Tuesday 26th March.  Faced with an array of mathematical challenges, the children worked in pairs to figure out the solutions within a time limit.  This fast-paced activity generated a buzz of excitement as the teams used their maths skills to complete the highest number of puzzles. 

One pupil's comment...
"It has made me realise that there are a lot of different ways to do maths and some can be fun.  I now know some quicker and easier ways to solve difficult problems.  I usually don't really enjoy maths, but the workshop was so much FUN!"
We would like to thank Surrey County Councillor Keith Taylor who kindly funded the day.

Friday, 1 March 2013


Another 35 school teams participated in the fifth heat of the SATRO 2013 Problem Solving Challenge at George Abbot School, Guildford on Wednesday 27 February.  The competition to build a coin sorter produced various intriguing solutions: some more successful than others.
Six different schools were represented among the group winners and runners-up, and these teams qualify for the final on 21 March which promises to be a rewarding and exciting occasion.  Congratulations to them, and to all the other school teams who took part!