The workshop which I am Team leader for is called Mini Mechanics and it shows kids aged 9-11 a little bit about mechanical engineering – specifically how petrol and diesel engines work. The workshop is in three parts – the anatomy of any engines, the chemistry of combustion and a mini mechanics workshop. Over the course of the festival we will have trained over 2100 children to be mini mech engineers!
The anatomy of an engine section is a little bit fabulous as we have a large cutaway engines. Pieces have been taken off to allow us to see the four stroke cycle in action. When the engine is switched on we can see the pistons moving up and down through the cylinders, the intake and exhaust valves opening and closing and get an idea of the rhythm of a car engine. Then the children learnt the Piston Dance!
The chemistry of combustion is a whistlestop chemistry tour of the energy transfers inside the engine. Knowing that energy cannot be created or destroyed but only transferred from one type to another, this demo set shows the kids how to harness potential chemical energy from fuel and turn it into kinetic energy.
The mini mechanics workshops is a space where the kids get hands-on with their new knowledge and deconstruct a petrol engine using real tools and working their way through a set of challenges. This is most children’s favorite part as they get to do it for themselves and are allowed to choose the right tools for the right job – just like real mechanical engineers!