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Robert's winning laser bob job

A trip to his stepfather's building site inspired 16-year-old Robert Jordan to devise the winning invention at the Duracell Science and Technology UK Schools Competition, writes Linda Blackburne.

Robert, who has just completed his GCSEs at Woodlands High School, a secondary modern in Gillingham, Kent, beat four other winners from two independent schools, a grant-maintained school and a church school to become the overall winner of the competition.

He invented a battery-powered, portable, laser plumb bob after noticing that erecting partition walls perpendicular to floors with an old-fashioned plumb bob and line was precarious, tedious and labour-intensive. His plumb bob produces a laser dot on the ceiling above a point marked on the floor.

He plans to take physics and maths A-levels at Chatham grammar school and is saving his Pounds 250 prize money for marketing his invention after he has carried out a full patent search.

He has also won Pounds 1,000 for his school and a trip to the Duracell Worldwide Technology Centre in Needham, Massachusetts with his science teacher, Jim Millar.

The competition, which was run by Duracell in conjunction with the Association for Science Education, was designed to stimulate the entrants' imagination and creativity in a practical way that related closely to key stage 4 of the national curriculum. The winners were chosen from 126 entries.

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