13 April 2022

Penpol pupils continue STEM heritage - competing in the National Finals of the first Lego League

Dyskyblon Pennpoll a bes ertach STEM - ow kesstrivya yn Pennwariow Kenedhlek an kynsa Kesunyans Lego.

Last month two Hayle Penpol Primary School teams, the Creative Coders and the LEGO Leaders, advanced to the England and Wales National Final of the 2022 FIRST LEGO League – one of the largest STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) competitions in the world – where they competed against the 64 best teams in the country.

The competition guides young people through STEM learning and exploration at an early age. From the different aspects of the competition, Discover, to Explore, and then to Challenge, the aim is that students will understand the basics of STEM and apply their skills in an exciting competition while building habits of learning, confidence, and teamwork skills along the way.

Penpol Primary School has previously worked with the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site as part of the “Cornish Caretakers” education project, exploring their Cornish mining heritage and inspiring the children with the world changing achievements of their home town. The project involved Edward Rowe visiting schools across Cornwall where children were able to learn about Richard Trevithick’s discoveries alongside many other Cornish mining figures, enjoy an immersive show about Cornish mining, took part in a mineral workshop and played our educational game “Mines and Ladders”. 

Hayle has an extensive heritage of mining and steam related industry and engineering, which dates from the mid-eighteenth century and the establishment of copper smelting at Copperhouse. Later, two of the most important iron foundries in the Site were to be established here – Harvey’s (1779-1903) and Copperhouse (1820-1869). A fierce and long-running rivalry grew between the competing foundries as they argued over access to the sea. This contributed to the development of Foundry and Copperhouse as individual settlements at either end of the town, located around the sites of the two companies. Harvey's helped produce the largest steam pumping engines ever built anywhere and was the workplace and meeting place of some of Cornwall’s most famous steam engineers, including Richard Trevithick and Arthur Woolf.

Today Harvey’s Foundry Trust promotes and preserves the natural, historical and architectural heritage of Hayle. The Heritage Centre based in John Harvey House has exhibits, lectures, a shop and so much more.

The two teams of Year 5s took part in the Cornwall finals of the FIRST LEGO League Competition where more than 300 school children across Cornwall took part. 

The Cornish Final was hosted by Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose who have supported the event throughout with STEM mentors who attended the schools and supported the children. Hayle’s mentor Chelsea, a Leading Aeronautical Engineer based at Culdrose, even travelled with the school over a weekend to the National final in Harrogate.

The Cornwall Regional Lego League Finals was organised by Cornwall Council and held virtually, due to Covid restrictions. 26 schools and 40 industry partners took part. Each school was given Lego kits and the pupils were set a series of engineering challenges, overseen by a team of volunteer judges.

Having performed exceptionally well at the Cornish Final and securing their place, the two teams, made up of 14 students, travelled over 800 miles and spent 20 hours on a coach to attend the National Finals in Harrogate. Meeting up with the team from Boscastle School on the way, as they had also qualified for the Finals, the schools travelled onwards together.

The teams scored fantastically, earning an incredible 250 and 270 points each!  These scores were enough to ensure that both teams placed in the top half of the entire Final, beating dozens of other teams including both Primary and Secondary students.

The Schools were hosted at Culdrose for final Trophy Awards by Commander Colin Maude  (Commander AE) and were able to meet Engineers, Pilots and other Navy specialists on base. 

The teams where sponsored by the wonderful people at Philps PastiesTigerX and Birdies Bistro. They very kindly helped pay for the experience and without their generous support the children wouldn’t have been able to take part in such a fantastic opportunity. 

The World Heritage Site team sends our congratulations to the children, teachers and all the others involved and looks forward to seeing how these wonderful Penpol students continue to be inspired by Hayle’s impressive STEM heritage.