Students for the high jump

PUBLISHED: 10:07 25 July 2013

Axe Vale Community College pupils prepare to tackle the drop.

Axe Vale Community College pupils prepare to tackle the drop.

Archant

Budding engineers from The Axe Valley Community College leap from the top of the Meldon Viaduct

A group of Axe Valley Community College students jumped from the top of the Meldon Viaduct this month as part of an abseiling treat.

The prize was awarded to the students for coming top in an engineering competition run by the college.

In January 2013, the college started a five-month engineering project for ASPIRE students.

ASPIRE is the college’s programme for gifted and talented students and it also includes students from years 5 and 6 at local primary schools.

The aim of the engineering project was to provide an opportunity for students to learn about science and engineering in the real world, and the project culminated in a prize for the winning team. About 50 ASPIRE students started the project with a trip to see local bridges and a workshop on how bridges are built with two engineers – Kevin Dentith, principal bridge engineer at Devon County Council and Paul Fitzhenry, an ASPIRE coach and an engineer in the construction industry.

Both civil engineers worked with the students throughout the project and taught them the rudimentaries of building bridges, before challenging the students to design their own bridge.

The two judges were so impressed with the students’ work that they offered a group the prize of abseiling from the Meldon Viaduct, on the condition they could build a model of the Meldon Viaduct using just straw and sticky tape, taking into account weight and height measurements and cost.

Following several after-school building sessions, the groups presented their bridge models and explained the rationale behind their designs and structures.

The judges then tested the bridges for load-bearing weight.

Rebecca Levi, ASPIRE co-ordinator, said: “The groups did some amazing work and produced fantastic bridges.

“The engineers told me how impressed they were with the high standard of work. We have some student engineers in the making.”

The winning team’s prize was to visit Meldon Viaduct, cycle over the bridge and to abseil off the side (a 35-metre drop to the valley bottom).

Once up on the bridge the abseiling instructor taught them the basics of abseiling, and six of the eight students decided to attempt the abseil, with all of them completing it.

“It was very impressive and a day to remember,” said Rebecca.

“Well done to all students who took part in the project and congratulations to “Golden Bridges” the winning team.”


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