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Gearing up for the JCB Junior Innovator project

Published: 10 February 2020

To complement this year’s Phizzi Forces CPD programme, the Ogden Trust primary team has collaborated with JCB on their Junior Innovator project – an engaging cross-curricular project to develop stronger links between physics and design technology in the primary curriculum.

More than 3,000 Junior Innovator resource boxes will be delivered to 66 Ogden primary partnerships (reaching more than 500 primary schools) over the next six months. The boxes include construction kits for a JCB-inspired machine and are supported by three Ogden Trust physics forces enquiries.

Last week, our Halesowen & Dudley Primary Partnership got an earlier taster of the Junior Innovator kit, as they constructed their excavator arm as part of a Creating Curiosity partnership day.

With guidance from Ogden Regional Rep, Dr Jenny Watson, Year 5 children worked together in small groups to start constructing their excavators, which will be used for further forces enquiries back at their schools.

“The JCB Junior Innovator Excavator kit comprises about 100 laser-cut wooden pieces which slot together neatly, along with the nuts, bolts and bearings to put it together and syringes and piping to raise the excavator arm and extend/close the excavator jaws,” explains Jenny.

“Having constructed the base of the excavator during the workshop the children are looking forward to completing their machines back at school and trying out the gears and pneumatics to make them move,” Jenny concludes.

“Wow – that’s one cool machine!”
Y5 child

“The children liked the challenge and the fact that it didn’t work straight away meant they worked as a team to put it together.”

The teachers were given four additional kits to use with other pupils in a STEM Club or Y5/6 class, together with Ogden Trust enquiries for three lesson to explore gears, levels and hydraulics/pneumatics. These enquiries have been designed to provide children with creative ways to embed, deepen and apply their knowledge of simple machines, a key component of the Year 5 forces topic, and can be carried out once children have constructed the Junior Innovator machine.

Search JCB Junior Innovator in the App Store for a handy guide on how to make the Junior Innovator machine, together with the enquiries.

The ‘Lift the load’ enquiry is designed to enable young learners to develop their skills in planning and carrying out a fair test by investigating levers with the aim for finding out the best arrangement of a robotic arm for lift a heavy load. In carrying out this enquiry, children will be able to practise measuring forces with a newton meter and go on to use their data to identify trends that will help them answer a scientific question.

The ‘Gears are great!’ enquiry provides an opportunity for children to carry out a pattern seeking enquiry that deepens their understanding of how gears work. Children are challenged to explore patterns between the number of teeth on connected gears and how they move with the aim of being able to use their findings to make predictions about what might happen in a different situation.

As an extension, the third enquiry ‘Helpful hydraulics and nifty pneumatics’ is also a pattern seeking enquiry where children investigate how the size of syringes in hydraulic and pneumatic systems alter the effect of forces as they are transferred from one place to another. Children will develop their learning in design technology by applying their understanding of forces to a new context.

“We are really looking forward to receiving our kits,” enthuses Doug Ashton, Science Co-ordinator at Kings Norton Primary School, and lead for the Birmingham Fiveways Primary Partnership. “The practical JCB kits will provide our children with a great opportunity to follow the forces enquiries developing their physics knowledge, engineering skills and understanding of machines. We are planning on using our kits in Year 6 as follow on activities to build up what they learnt during their Year 5 forces topic. We will also be able to introduce hydraulics whilst using the some of the other challenges to reinforce their problem solving and investigational mathematics skills,” concludes Doug.

The JCB Junior Innovator project is the brainchild of Stuart Harper, Engineering Excellence Manager at JCB, and provides construction kits for a JCB-inspired machine. “The UK currently faces an annual deficit of approximately 60,000 engineers from higher education streams and the DfE states that quality STEM teaching must start at primary schools. The JCB Junior Innovators programme seamlessly integrates our iconic brand with the curriculum needs of KS2; providing a national teaching resource to teachers, including CPD provision. We were delighted to work with The Ogden Trust to help realise the full potential of the programme.”

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