When learners join The JCB Academy they participate in a residential trip to Harper Adams University in Shropshire where they take part in a range of educational and leisure-based activities. The classroom lessons involve PSHE (Personal, social, health, and economic), English, mathematics, science, and engineering.
The engineering lessons, which are taught alongside Harper Adams’ lecturers, include vehicle configuration, traction and power, steering and suspension, and chassis design.
Traction and Power
The learners used battery-powered model vehicles with front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and four-wheel drive to experiment with. Firstly the learners had to weigh the vehicles using an electronic digital scale. The learners then had to measure the amount of drawbar pull of each vehicle on different surfaces; AstroTurf, smooth concrete, loose sand, and rough concrete. The learners recorded and analysed the results from each test. Another experiment for the learners was to analyse other battery-powered model vehicles as they climbed a 30-degree inclined ramp, both in front and rear-wheel drive.
Suspension and steering
The suspension and steering lessons were set in the soil barn at Harper Adams. Learners were taught different types of suspension and their purpose and also experimented with a small vehicle to analyse the turning circles with different configurations.
Learners design and build a structure using paper straws and a glue gun. The structure is designed to withhold up to 3kg in weight.
The learners were given a wooden board with fixed steel pegs in different positions and various plastic gears. The learners had to put the gears onto the pegs to make a gear combination according to the provided chart and then fill in the results of the revolution that the driven gear makes.
The outdoor activities consisted of a climbing wall, Segway, archery, and team building.
Learners also study English, mathematics, and science subjects whilst at Harper Adams. One of the mathematics lessons is a business-based activity. Learners are put into groups and each given credits which enables them to buy a range of stationery and paper from the ‘shop’. Tasked to then cut out a range of paper shapes, produced shapes can then be sold back to the shop for more credits. The shapes are all priced differently and need to be produced to the exact dimensions. Shapes are scrutinised by ‘shop’ staff for accuracy and quality, and a price is then negotiated. During the activity, there is a stock market crash which heavily impacts the prices that the shop buys items, some shoot up in value, some decrease. The activity lasts for three hours so the learners get time to decide the most efficient way to produce items, how much to spend, which items to make, etc.
The Harper Adams’ take on the residential
A series of sessions aimed at developing the next generation of engineers among current secondary school pupils have been held at Harper Adams University.
The sessions were held in collaboration with the Staffordshire-based JCB Academy – which aims to develop skills related to business and engineering as part of the development of its pupils.
More than 150 students took part in a three-day residential programme, which included business and sport sessions as well as an engineering design challenge which was hosted by six lecturers from Harper Adams’ Engineering team.
The challenge saw students receive an introductory lecture on the loading of framework structures which set the basis for their challenge.
They were then taken to see some of the concepts they had just been introduced to put to the test in Harper Adams’ unique Soil Hall using a digger, showcasing the backhoe and strain measurements. The hall contains a covered field used for research and student projects, and is the largest demonstration area of its kind in the UK.
From this, the teams were challenged to build a digger arm or boom using just straws and hot glue – before having their designs put to the test as weights were applied to see how well each held up.
The winning team received their awards at a special ceremony at the end of the event.
The ‘Best Team Overall’ consisted of a trio from Royce House, Hasan Aslam, Jack Gorman and Tristan Palmer. The runners-up for ‘Best Team Overall’ also came from Royce House.
Lead Practitioner for Engineering at JCB Academy, Steve Fergusson, said: “This is the second time I’ve come on this residential event, and it’s always so interesting to experience living in the halls of residence and having a taste of university lectures.
“The students here have come to our Academy from schools all over the county and this was their first week starting with us, so it was a great ice breaker. I was amazed at how well the activities helped them to bond.”
And Harper Adams University Widening Participation Officer, Rachel Brookes, added: “It was marvellous to welcome the pupils from the JCB Academy to campus – and to be able to show them some of the cutting-edge facilities we have on site.
“At Harper Adams, we’re always working to develop the next generation of engineers – so events like this, which help inspire young people to consider engineering in new and challenging ways, are an ideal fit for us.”