Pupils at St Paul's Catholic High School in Wythenshawe, Manchester, celebrate science by taking part in a Toxic Waste Challenge

Pupils from St Paul’s Catholic High School in Wythenshawe, Manchester, recently took part in the national Science and Engineering Week, a celebration of science, engineering and technology.

St Paul’s, the first school in Manchester to be awarded specialist status for engineering, has a distinctive science and engineering ethos running throughout the school and is keen to inspire and engage the pupils in these areas. The pupils took part in a number of science-based activities, including a Toxic Waste Challenge, where pupils had to remove a “vial of toxic waste” from a “contaminated area”. They were not allowed to go into the contaminated area and had to use only a few things to help them – three pieces of string, a short bungee rope, an elastic band, a balloon and a metal ring.

Another activity was the “electric maze” in which the pupils had to pass through a maze in teams. The maze was actually a grid of squares, consisting of “safe” and “unsafe” squares. The safe squares formed a single path to the other end of the grid. Every time a team member stepped on an unsafe square, a horn was sounded and they had to go back while another team member tried to cross.

The pupils also had to build paper towers with a newspaper and a roll of Sellotape. The winner was the team which built the tallest tower.

Irena Savova from St Paul’s said: “The pupils worked in small groups to carry out a series of tasks. The activities, focused on solving scientific problems through practical investigation, were great fun and very popular with the pupils.

“These sessions helped the youngsters see how science and engineering are applied in real life.”