Locally in Coventry and
Warwickshire we have developed the following Challenges In A Box for school
teachers to use to assist in educating pupils of various ages. We are keen to have
feedback and new ideas for these challenges.
Each challenge has visual aids
and, where relevant, pupil guides and teacher guides.
Challenges In A Box are copyright
© Derrick Willer.
However you are free to copy for
use in schools and for instructing children of school age and for use by
children of school age. Please feedback to: Derrick Willer, dw@dwiller.com
However,
I suggest that you give a small donation (e.g. £20, $30) to the Memusi Schools in remote Kenya so that they can install
electricity and then get computers.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/electricity Thank you.
Project 
Description 

Burglar
Alarm Secondary 
An introduction
to electrical circuits using low cost materials. About 3060 minutes as
individuals or small teams. I used this for a KS3 STEM Club (1214 year olds)
giving them a set of the same materials and challenging them to make the
burglar alarm without any guidance whatsoever. Not even the concept of a trip
wire. 

Table
Tennis Ball Launcher 
An education
challenge. We have 12 kits available for use in schools in Coventry and
Warwickshire. (30 mins for basic launcher kit – up to 1½ hours for loader for
the launcher made from recycled materials provided by the school) Email
Derrick Willer dw@dwiller.com availability. 

Flashing Festive Lights 
Using LEDS and electronic
components to make an AStable Multivibrator to power flashing LED festive
lights 

Balloon
Car 
Make a
car powered by a balloon from recycled materials 

Recycled Boat 
Make a sailing boat out of
recycled materials 

Paper
Catapult 
Pupils in
small teams are asked to design, budget and then make a catapult out of
recycled paper. Recycled materials are free but nuts, bolts, elastic bands,
stickytape, etc. cost money. They catapult a ball at a set of skittles three
times, scoring a maximum of 89 points. Additional scores depend upon the
accuracy of their budget and the innovative nature of their design. Suitable
for pupils aged 1015. (2½ hours) 

Why
Lag Your House? 
A simple card
based exercise for younger pupils to learn how insulating your home can
improve heating and save on energy. Suitable for pupils aged 513. (60 mins) 

Bridges 
A paper based
exercise suitable for 713 year old pupils. Pupils
make a bridge
out of paper into a U"
shape and find out how much
weight (pennies or model cars) it will take with different depths of the
"U" versus the remaining area for the bridge. They graph the
results. The project is then extended to bridge the gap between
two chairs with
paper, sticky tape, etc. costing
them "money" – e.g. cheapest
to hold a 100gm weight wins. (30 mins) 

Replacing
The Family Car 
Pupils should
investigate the wholelife carbon footprint of a car using the
internet. They should draw graphs piecharts, etc. comparing buying a new car
versus keeping the old one. Internet research, spreadsheets, etc. can be used
and make this relevant to the challenge subject. Suitable for pupils aged
1216. (Homework, 4+ hours) 

House
Of Gadgets 
For 9  13
year olds. An exercise to understand sustainability and conservation. Pupils
imagine what will happen if rubbish is not collected. Then there is a short
story about conservation. The pupils decide on a gadget to make and are given
recycled materials to make a mockup of it. (2½3 hours) 

Magic Roundabout 
Make a
roundabout from recycled cardboard, paper and wooden dowel. Decorate if for a
festival or party. 

Hydrogen
As A Fuel 
Hydrogen
powered cars, etc. are already working at Birmingham and other universities. Pupils
make hydrogen and oxygen and test them. They are then asked to work out the
best place to make hydrogen using sunlight. They should work out the costs of
transporting from source to point of use  including compressing/liquefying
the gas. Internet research, graphs, spreadsheets, etc. can be used and make
this relevant to the challenge subject. Suitable for pupils aged 1216.
(Inschool experiment, 30 mins, Homework 4+ hours) 

Fan
or Turbine Efficiency 
Pupils should
make a fan and work out its efficiency at various blade angles and numbers. A
Design Council Project finalist utilised a boat propelled by the
fan pulling against
a weight suspended over a pulley. But pupils can use any other method. Project report with
graphs, etc is required. Graphs,
spreadsheets, etc. can be used and make this
relevant to the challenge subject. Suitable for pupils
aged 1216. (12+ hours) 

Paper
Towers And Bridges 
Versions for Primary
and Secondary Schools. Approx. 30 – 60 minutes. Secondary school pupils in
teams are judged on design, budgets, actual spend, and presentations. 

STEM
Quiz 
24 questions
to tease the pupils, teachers and STEM Ambassadors complete with
"Wrong" with explanation and the correct answers 

Card
Tricks 
What are the
maths behind these three card tricks? Pupils can work alone or in small
groups to discover how these card tricks work. Suitable for homework or for
4560 minutes sessions. Suitable for pupils aged 1216. (4560 mins) 

A
Dozen Ten Minute Challenges 
Set of 13
(Baker’s Dozen) challenges each taking 510 minutes. 

Another
Dozen Ten Minute Challenges 
Set of 13
(Baker’s Dozen) challenges each taking 510 minutes. 

Robot
Challenge 
This project challenges
teams to build a model robot from K’nex kits.
Meccano or other construction kits. It is aimed
at pupils ages 10 to 14 (years 5 to 9). The project could also be used to
introduce primary school pupils to their secondary school with
"mentors" for each team from the secondary school. It was first
developed and run at Jaguar Cars Visitor’s facility at Castle Vale,
Birmingham, with some 150 thirteen year old school pupils in teams of six.
(1½ hours +) In the lunch period we were entertained by Prof. Carl Chinn MBE,
the famous Birmingham local radio celebrity with some of the pupils and some
teachers being interviewed on BBC West Midlands Radio. We are
indebted to Jaguar Cars and BBC West Midlands
Radio
and Prof. Carl Chinn MBE for their valued assistance. 

Introduction
To Computer Programming 
Utilising the
Basic programming language, pupils learn now to
write and test a program initially to add, then to subtract, multiply and
divide two numbers. Suitable for pupils aged 1216. (1 hour +) 

Code
and Decode 
This project
is aimed at learning more about programming by developing a computer program
to code and decode a message. Pupils will be able secretly to send a coded
text document attached to an email to a friend who, when given the correct
key, will be able to decode the message in the text document. Alternatively
they can save secret data in coded format. Suitable for pupils aged 1216.
(1½ hours +) 

Pendulums 
An activity with a tennis ball and
a cricket ball to demonstrate pendulums and calculate their swingtime.
Finally testing the formula with a playground swing. 

Lets
Crumble 
Learn how to
programme the Crumble computer. Then make a nightlight or automated
moneybox using the Crumble kit and recycled materials. There are further
challenges for traffic lights, car and maze, robot. Developed by DATA 

Prime
Numbers 
This project
is aimed at learning about programming by developing a computer program to
test if a number is prime and then to extend this to list all prime numbers
up to a given number. Suitable for pupils aged 1216. (1 hour + ) 

Pythagorean
Triangles 
We all know
that a 3,4,5 triangle is a right angled triangle, a Pythagorean Triangle. In
this project pupils write a computer program to discover other wholenumber
Pythagorean Triangles up to a given length of the shortest side. Suitable for
pupils aged 1216. 

Fun
With Phiziks and Che Mystery 
Ten
activities including Fizzy Chemistry, Make a Thermometer, Magnifying Glass,
Bending Water, Speed even though you are sitting still, Oxygenetics,
Mento® Fountain, Why is Statue of Liberty Blue, Acceleration, Plastic Milk 

BBC
Micro:bit Traffic Lights 
Using the new
BBC Microbit and Python code to manage a single traffic light, then a Cross
Roads set, finally to make the traffic lights using recycled materials. The
problem to solve (with an answer) is that there are four states for the Cross
Road Traffic Lights and only three outputs from the BBC Microbit. The
example uses a relay to turn off green lights when the yellow ones are on. 

Funny
Maths 
Exploring
some unusual arithmetic, geometry, etc. used by ourselves and maybe, aliens.
Using Thales Theorem, Hippocrates of
Chios, Mesolab Compass, multiplying using
your hands and unusual multiplication by some other races. 

The
Safety Deposit Vault 
This project
is based on a real spreadsheet for a company in Birmingham. The spreadsheet
is complex and must be mail merged with invoices and overdue letters in a
wordprocessor. Suitable for pupils aged 1418. There is a model answer. An
extension is to utilise a database such as MS Access  this is very relevant
to the challenge subject. (1 hour + ) 

Microsoft
Access Tutorial My Holiday Home 
This tutorial
provides detailed instructions on creating a Microsoft Access database using
an example that manages the lettings of a holiday villa in France or Spain. It will
provide students with an indepth understanding of MS Acess
and an ability to design and construct their own databases to benefit
themselves and their employers. Each stage is
detailed in minute detail to guide
the student through to a completed database. The tutorial starts with
creating the database, adding Tables for customer Names
and Bookings. Then Queries to enable us to combine tables and sort
into sequence. Students can
proceed at their own pace but the typical minimum time for the entire
tutorial is of the order of six to eight hours, however some can be completed
as "homework". The tutorial requires downloading Microsoft Access
2013 or later versions. 

Tricky
Mathematics 
20 Maths
questions to confuse the pupils, teachers and STEM Ambassadors 

More
Funny Maths 
Triangles,
marbles, weighing, always 1089, letters represent numbers, odd x even = ? and
more 

Gravity
Egg Drop 
Using raw
eggs the teams have to make a cradle to hold the egg and protect the egg when
it is dropped from height. For younger ones you may want to use boiled eggs.
Teams should consider safety, strength, crumple zone, what happens if the cradle
turns upsidedown, etc. 

Levers
and Pulleys 
Levers with
up to ten to one mechanical advantage, and visa
versa. One to four pulleys with up to fourtoone mechanical advantage. 

Density 
Several
samples to weigh and measure their volume using a graduated testtube or jug.
Plus you can add your own samples – maybe pebble, concrete, plastic, potato,
carrot, cheese 

Even
More Funny Maths 
Apples and
bags, twins? Ladder and tide, Hare and tortoise, Polar Bear. Alien money, and
more 

Car
Crash 
An exercise
to discover that cars have crumple zones to keep passengers safe from
crashes. The pupils
are asked to construct a car from available materials and work out how to
protect the passengers and also have crumple zones front and back. 

More
Tricky Maths 
More Maths questions
to confuse the pupils, teachers and STEM Ambassadors 

Make
a Thermometer 
Make a
thermometer out of a drinks bottle, a straw, alcohol and water. 

Animals
in Danger 
Ten examples
of endangered animals. What are they? Where do they live? What do the eat?
And What is the danger? 

Make
a Barometer 
Make a
barometer using a jam jar and a record on graph paper 

Measure
Wind Speed 
Make an
anemometer and measure wind speed. Compare to weather forecasts to obtain a
conversion factor between revolutions per minute and published wind speed. 

The
Water Cycle 
An experiment
to show the water cycle – evaporation
and condensation. 

Compressed Air Car 
Make a model
car from recycled materials and use compressed air to race it cross the
playground 

Compressed Air Plane 
Make a model
plane or rocket from recycled materials and use compressed air to fly it
across the playground 

Helicopter 
Elastic band helicopter made from paper and paper clips 

More Tricky Logic 
Ten more
questions where the logic may not be obvious. 

Solve
an XXX Division Sum 
You have a
division sum where crosses represent numbers and just a few actual numbers
are shown. Can you solve the sum? 