Developing applied learning can be difficult, but a competition based on a real project proves to be a great starting point.
The Hope Extreme Engineering Challenge aims to give pupils the chance to work on a promotional project for Hope, a Lancashire-based company that makes mountain bike components.
The competition was developed by the firm and Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT).
Pupils were asked to make a product that Hope could distribute at the Cycle Show, which opens at Earls Court in London next Thursday.
The competition was for key stage 3 and 4 engineering pupils. As well as introducing them to a real-life project, the challenge aimed to change their perceptions of modern engineering and inspire them to consider it as a career.
It also showcased the high quality production methods in use across the UK, often in environments that most pupils will never get to experience.
On offer to the winners were a range of Hope products, a day working with the designers and engineers at Hope's factory in Barnoldswick, and the chance to hand out their products to Cycle Show visitors at Earls Court.
Making learning as realistic as possible is a powerful educational tool and this competition lends itself easily to the applied learning agenda.
The SSAT worked with Hope to provide a film of the manufacture of two products to help give an insight into modern precision engineering, and they also developed a website to help teachers run the competition.
Richard Beeden is a design and technology Advanced Skills Teacher at Hope Valley College in Derbyshire, and a vocational co-ordinator for the SSAT.
1st: Horndean Technology College, Hampshire
2nd: Sackville School, East Grinstead, West Sussex
3rd: Sir John Colfox School, Bridport, Dorset
1st: Bournemouth School for Boys
2nd: Lakers School, Coleford, Gloucestershire
3rd: Wales High School, Sheffield.