How they worked together to get an Easter morning breakfast egg from here to there - safely
For the third year running schools of the Marlborough Area Education Partnership (MAEP) have come together to organise an egg competition with a difference.
MAEP is a co-operative grouping of nine of the areas primary and junior schools - and St John's. Their heads meet and agree an action plan. They have run an anti-bullying programme, a big art skills project, a trip to Westminster and share some IT equipment.
The pre-Easter egg session comes under MAEP's science and technology programme, which also runs after school clubs in the summer. It was organised by the headteacher of Burbage Primary, Nicola Coupe, with Debs Johnstone of St Mary's Infant School.
The floor of St John's Theatre on the Hill was covered with all the traditional Blue Peter sticky stuff and egg boxes and sixteen teams of second and third year pupils from seven of the MAEP schools...but none of them brought one they had made earlier.
The teams were made up of pupils from Burbage, Ogbourne, St Katharine's, Oare and Chilton Foliat primary schools and St Mary's Infants and St Peter's Junior schools. Each team - most of them with members from different schools - had a responsible adult with them and there were grown-ups watching over the sawing benches.
Their aim was simply to make a car, a boat and a cable-car-type gondola to transport an egg - without cracking it - down a ramp, across a very small lake and down the zip-wire. Simply? Not at all. From designing their team shield, to drawing the initial plans, through to the testing runs, this was a far from simple morning's work.
Sensibly during the construction and testing phases rubber eggs were used to make sure they fitted snuggly into each vehicle. The competition runs used real eggs...and at the end there were plenty left unused. This says a great deal about the care the children went to ensure their eggs fitted in safely.
Unsurprisingly, as the egg was central to the designs, many of the teams chose to use egg boxes as their basic material. After all egg boxes are made to protect eggs - so it paid to make best use of the way someone else's design keeps eggs safe.
Last year they had eggs on wheels, on water and dropped by parachute - the parachutes were very successful and great fun. This year the parachute materials stayed in the cupboard and instead they had set up a zip-wire on the stage - down which the great majority of gondolas slid at some speed and, with enough protection for the eggs, without mishap.
How we asked one young engineer did she find designing a gondola for the zip-wire: "Daunting", she said. At the bottom of the wire we counted three cracked or seriously broken eggs. But the challenge was greatly enjoyed - and the odd broken egg was given a good jeering.
Problem spotting and problem solving was the essence of the competition. If your mast is too tall or your sail too heavy, your boat will almost certainly turn over - and spill its egg. And if your wheels are held too tightly to the sides of the car or do not turn together, then car and egg may well come off the ramp - with disastrous results.
Points were given for design, technical expertise, ease of inserting the egg, tidiness and, of course, safety of the egg. When the competition runs were over and all the points were added up, just half a point separated the winning team from the two teams taking joint second place. But it really was not too much about winning - much more about constructing satisfying vehicles for those precious eggs.