Geared up for crane building

During February half-term, education volunteer Anna Birt brought our 'Build a Crane' activity to the Cheltenham Science Group. The activity has been developed by engineering graduates from Rolls-Royce to demonstrate an incredible mechanical device that was invaluable in the history of working docks around Britain.

Each of the four crane sets contained sections to construct the frame with a handle connected to a rod holding the bobbin used to raise and lower the hook. Children were asked if they thought the task was easy or required considerable effort to wind up the thread lifting 220 grams. Children agreed that the simple pulley system would have been hard work for people hoisting cargo from boats to the warehouses over a hundred years ago. "It would be impossible to do this everyday!" one girl said as she imagined the workers at Gloucester Docks.
Anna then suggested that gears could be added to the crane's frame to create a mechanical advantage to make the task easier and effortless. Children explored three different sized gears to experiment which combination would work best and with a little assistance, they successfully managed to improve their machine's efficiency - a simple, but brilliant invention!
Anna encouraged the children to get the cogs in their own minds working to find a scientific solution to what would have been a real problem on the industrious canals in the Victorian era. The activity proved to be popular from toddlers to teens with differing learning levels for all abilities. The Cheltenham Science Group is a great way to open up opportunities to our local budding engineers!

Last date edited: 21 February 2018

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The Education Team

The Education Team delivers two main learning programmes. Explorers which is aimed at primary school children and uniformed groups, and STEM which is aimed at secondary schools. We provide free, curriculum linked learning resources for teachers and offer a range of outreach sessions to inspire children and young people about our waterways. Our fantastic Education Volunteers deliver sessions on the towpath or in school, bringing the stories of our waterways to life.


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