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Brain teaser

A staggering 42,000 pupils took part in last year's Junior Engineers for Britain K'Nex Challenge. Antony Oliver explains how you can help make the next event even more The creativity, inventiveness and imagination of primary school children is unbounded. Faced with a fun challenge they simply get stuck in and find a solution.

So give them a K'Nex kit and a solution will rapidly emerge from the pile of plastic pieces as planning combines with dexterity, trial and error to stunning effect.

Hence the popularity and success of the Junior Engineers for Britain K'Nex Challenge.

The competition is organised by the Young Engineers network in three rounds - local competitions in classrooms, regional heats and a national final.

Under the guidance of teachers and engineers - drawn typically from the Science and Engineering Ambassadors scheme -7 to 11 year-old pupils work in teams of two to design and make a model with K'Nex construction kits to solve a challenge scenario.

Each pupil that enters will receive a certificate and the winning team in each school will receive a prize of a K'Nex kit.

Around 3000 specially prepared kits have been provided by K'Nex distributor Hasbro, with these being left in the classrooms for use by the school in the future.

To enter this year's competition schools must send an application form to Young Engineers before 1 April 2003. A copy of this form can be downloaded from the Young Engineers website. Alternatively schools should contact their local science, engineering and technology centre (SETPOINT) for details.

The national final will be held in September 2003. The winner and runner-up will be awarded a K'Nex kit as their prize but the winning school will receive a prize of £1,000 and the runners-up school £500.

If you think that your local school should be involved in this years Junior K'Nex Challenge or if you would like to help take the challenge into a school, contact Young Engineers and get involved.

It is a unique way to start tomorrow's generation thinking about engineering and problem solving.

INFOPLUS For more information about the Junior Engineers for Britain K'Nex Challenge 2003, contact Joanne Phillips at Young Engineers - (01428) 727 825 or visit www. youngeng. org NCE Junior K Nex Challenge Christmas competition Closing date 9am, Monday 23 December 2002 To wet your appetite for the 2003 Junior K'Nex Challenge and to help fill stockings this Christmas, NCE has a hoard of K'Nex prizes to give away free to readers and schools.

All you have to do is describe, in less than 100 words, the perfect K'Nex challenge scenario that could be used in classrooms across the UK to teach, excite and test the ingenuity of the nation's 7 to 11 year olds (see example).

The scenario could challenge pupils to build a structure capable of bridging a gap, lifting a weight or negotiating a course. It should test design and planning skills, teamwork and construction talents.

To enter, simply complete the form below, remembering to include a contact telephone number.

We want to send your prizes in time for Christmas so the closing date for entries is strictly 9am on Monday 23 December 2002.

Winners will be notified and prizes dispatched straight away.

Example scenario 'A huge tree was blown down outside your school by the high winds this afternoon. It is lying in the road and has blocked the gates.

A model of the tree is provided. Your challenge is to build a device that can travel 50cm to the tree, pick it up and then move it 50cm back to where you started from. The device should stand up on its own and if possible, move with its own power.'

1st Prize For yourself:

One Electronic Arcade. Build and customise different pinball games with sounds, sensors and scoring.

For a school of your choice:

Cyber Ultra - bring models to life. Including sounds, impact sensors and remote control.

Download programmes from the web to give models different personalities.

Classix - 400+ pieces for 32 different models l30 model set Five runners up For yourself:

Cyber Swarm For a school of your choice lClassix - 400 pieces 32 models

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