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Evening Meeting With Amanda Mckean, Director Canterbury Festival

30th April 2024
Venue: Cricket Ground

Evening meeting with Amanda McKean, Director, Canterbury Festival.
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Lunchtime Meeting Agm & May Business Meeting

7th May 2024
Venue: Cricket Ground
Lunchtime meeting 12.30pm for 1pm meal Annual General Meeting to be followed by the May Business Meeting.
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Pop Up STEM Competition 2020 – winners!

We’re delighted to announce the winners of our Pop Up STEM Competition. 1st prize: A compact device for social distancing; 2nd: A fun concept for feeding the dog, and 3rd: an idea for making trolley use at the supermarket safer. Well done all!

For the last few years our Club, in collaboration with Canterbury Christ Church University, has run an Annual Innovation Competition for local school children. The competition aims to encourage youngsters to get involved with STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This year we had to change our plans rapidly because of Covid-19, so with generous input from one of our members and the support of Canterbury Christ Church University we ran a “pop up” competition, with entries coming in direct from students online. A number of students from local schools took part – though we were a little disappointed not to get as many entries as usual, possibly because of the short time frame and lack of opportunity for us to publicise the competition given the lockdown due to Covid-19 earlier in the year. 

The challenge was for entrants to “think of a novel, simple and robust way of making life more enjoyable or solving a problem that they have experienced during lockdown and the subsequent easing of restrictions”. The solution had to be in the form of an idea, device or product (not an app). All entries were judged on the basis of originality, clarity and presentation.

Today we are delighted to announce the winners:

1st prize: Amara Leeming from Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham 

Amara, a Year 11 student, had the idea for a “social distance detector” – a small, wearable device with an in-built sensor that will alert users that they have come too close to others with a flashing light, vibration, and a recordable audio alert.

Judges’ comments:
“This is a product which would help schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, public transport systems, construction sites and many other groups of people. Amara has explained the problem and her solution eloquently and backed it up with good research and a well thought out product.”

2nd prize: Charlotte and Holly Fletcher from Sir Roger Manwood’s School, Sandwich

Charlotte and Holly took a light-hearted approach to the challenge – with a “contraption” which will allow someone who is ill to feed their dog. The sisters, year 7 and 9 students, made a fun video to show their rather wacky device in action. 

Judges’ comments:

“Charlotte and Holly have addressed a real issue with fun and humour. They worked hard to produce a video which demonstrates the problem and engineered a solution which works. They must have had to work hard to make it work and get the video just right. It probably required a number of trials, takes and editing.”

3rd prize: Javier Gladstone Contioso from Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham

Javier’s device, called the “Covid handle” is a removable, washable handle for use with supermarket trolleys that Javier claims is more efficient, environmentally friendlier and safer than the current system of using wipes and cleaning solutions.

Judges’ comments:

“A very well presented solution to an everyday problem. Javier did an excellent presentation and showed skill in his CAD work and considering the assembly and fixing of the handle. We would even suggest to him that he could make this as a consumable product that individuals might buy and carry with them to the shops. Alternatively, a disposable handle sleeve could also work.”

Joint 4th prizes (in no particular order): 

  • Alex Sidnell, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham – “Adjustable headrest” – a device to promote good posture by those working at home or being home-schooled.
  • Ellie Reed, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham – “Calming goggles” – a device to help those suffering from the negative effects of lockdown, such as stress.
  • Matthew Whysall, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham – “Pelican crossing pedal” – a device to help people use pelican crossings without the need to touch the buttons with their hands.
  • Samuel Rumary, Sir Roger Manwood’s School, Sandwich – “Sanitising shopping bag” – a two-piece system that sterilises items in your shopping bag. 
  • Thomas Oliver, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham – “Kissing gate key” – a device that allows people to use “kissing gates” (gates found in country fields) while taking their daily exercise in the countryside without having to touch the latching mechanism with their hands.  

Many of the entrants thought about everyday problems that they had faced and took time to look into other products on the market, investigate materials, production (and costs), marketing and distribution. 

The competition was judged by three local judges: 

  • Chair of judges: Dr Rihana Ishaq, Director of Engineering at Canterbury Christ Church University
  • Dr Harry Cragg, former member of the Science Faculty of the University of Kent, former Lord Mayor of Canterbury and Past President of our Club
  • Shabana Raman, Head of Mathematics, Ashford College and Mathematics Advanced Practitioner, EKC Group.

Commenting on the competition, Rihana said: “We want to congratulate all students for their efforts and imagination in addressing current societal problems with products and concepts that will really help people in the current situation of managing their lives in a pandemic. The standard of all the work was really impressive and the students took a lot of time to develop their products and ideas and make their case. She also added, “I have a company who are making something similar [to Amara’s device] and I would like to try and put Amara in touch with them so she can see the realisation of her design.”

The competition prizes were sponsored by the family of the late Dr Shawkatur Reza Chowdhury, a local doctor (learn more about him in the “about the competition” section here). On behalf of the family his daughter, Rotarian Dr Julie Reza, commented: “My family and I were very impressed by the quality of entries into the competition, and the time and effort that the youngsters put into their entries – especially given that this has been a challenging time for many young people.” She added, “Hopefully, taking part in the competition will have inspired them in STEM and perhaps some of the winners will go on to take up careers in these fields. Who knows, we may have the next Bill Gates, Elon Musk or Andy Rubin in amongst them! Our special congratulations to Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham, whose youngsters are clearly engaged with science and technology which, no doubt, is a reflection on the school and its teaching staff!”

Rotarian Brian Dobinson, who organises our usual Annual Innovation Competition on behalf of our Vocational Committee and who devised the pop up competition with Julie’s input said: “It’s very good to see that despite the difficult times, many young people are thinking about how to make the world a better place – I am delighted that we were able to put this competition together at such short notice and would like to thank the judges, sponsors, and all those that took part”. 

Our thanks to Helen Ward, Lydia Ahern and James Bennett of Canterbury Christ Church University for their input into the competition. 

Due to the Covid-19 winners will receive their cheques and certificate of entry by post in the next few weeks. 


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The Rotary Club of Canterbury
St Lawrence Cricket Ground
Old Dover Road,
Canterbury, Kent,
CT1 3NZ,
United Kingdom

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