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Early evening visit to the Tannery Development and meal

13th August 2024
Venue: Tannery Development, Canterbury
Early evening visit to the Canterbury Tannery Development lead by Andrew Clague who was the principal architect on this project.
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Inter Club Bat & Trap Competition Evening

16th August 2024
Venue: The Golden Lion, Broad Oak
This year's Rotary in Canterbury Interclub Bat & Trap Competition is being held in the evening of Friday, 16th August at the Golden Lion Pub, Broad Oak.
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Innovation Competition 2024 – results!

We were delighted to hold the final of our Innovation Competition yesterday, in partnership with Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU). As usual the quality of presentations was excellent, with innovations ranging from products to use at home or while socialising to a product to use at sea! Our congratulations to all that took part.

This year we held the final in our usual haunt of Old Sessions House at CCCU. As well as the finalists and three judges (Stefan Colley [Chair], Geoff Connolly and Leslie Stephenson, we were pleased to be joined by other students, teachers, parents, Rotarians and guests – including the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Councillor Jean Butcher, and the Lady Mayoress, Di Baldock, and, later, CCCU’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Marco Keir.

Kent and Medway STEM Ambassador James Bennett (from CCCU) welcomed everybody to the competition before handing over to our new President Maxine Blades (officiating at her first Rotary event as President).

Maxine reminded everybody that our club started the competition – now in its 11th year in the current format –  to support and recognise the contributions of schools to the development of STEM. She emphasised how we appreciate the support of families, friends and teaching staff for the event, and passed on thanks to head teachers.

Maxine also welcomed the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress. “It’s great to have civic recognition and participation in today’s event” said Maxine. Finally, she welcomed our regular guest speaker (Gary Robinson, from the University of Kent), Rotarians and other guests.

Maxine then handed over to Stefan. [Although shortlisted, two of the 10 shortlisted finalists were unable to take part in the final. Each 5-minute presentation by the finalists was followed by a few questions from judges and the audience.]

After a brief reminder of the rules Steven introduced the first presenters, Oli and Elliot P (from Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys [SLBS]) who presented their “Hydrometer” – a device to monitor the use of water in households. The device would allow users to know where water was being used the most, and also help detect leaks. Oli and Elliot also passed around a prototype for the judges to examine.

The next finalist was Elliot J (also from SLBS). Elliot, a sailing enthusiast, presented his “Twist ‘n Lock Mast Extension”, targeted at the sailing community and used to ensure stable extension of masts (currently, we learnt, these extensions are held together with duct tape!) Elliot showed a short video effectively illustrating the problem of a “broken” mast; he also had a prototype to illustrate his concept to the judges.

Zak (from Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Faversham [QEGS]) then presented his innovative “Effortless Bench” – a “rotating” outdoor bench that addresses the problem of benches being unusable after rainfall. As with other presenters, he set out the problem and his solution with effective illustrations, and touched on factors such as materials, costs, manufacturing and marketing.

Next, Sophia (from QEGS) presented “Tea Timer. She aimed to solve the problem of drinking tea at a comfortable temperature rather than forgetting about it and wasting it. Her device would “enhance the drinking experience” by alerting people to when their tea was ready to drink; the device had the potential to be a novelty item with widespread appeal.

Mary (from Invicta Grammar School) then presented “MoodMate” – a smart device and app combination to help people cope with depression. Mental health is certainly a growing issue – especially among “Gen Z” – and Mary set out the problem well during her presentation. Her device/app combination monitors health, sends alerts, and suggests options for users to manage their condition.

Eva (from Kent College) presented “Cappi” – a device for older teens and adults. In a moment that led Stefan to comment: “I feel I’m in an episode of [TV show] “Dragon’s Den”, Mary approached the judges with three bottles, asking them if they’d like a drink! Her point was to illustrate her anti-drink-spiking device. She had conceived two versions of the device, one for use without straws and one for use with straws; she had also made colourful prototypes for the judges to test.

Like Zak, the next presenter, Louie (from Kent College), also had an idea for a bench to be used after wet weather. Louie brought a working small-scale prototype of his “Dry Bench” for the judges to inspect. The similar problem being addressed led Stefan to invite Louie to comment on Zak’s idea and Zak to comment on Louie’s idea; Stefan also asked if the two would collaborate on an inter-school design!

The final presenter was Ellie (from Dover Grammar School for Girls), who presented the “Weightless Wheelie” – a product that would help the elderly and others with shopping. Inspired by watching her grandmother struggle, Ellie outlined iterations of her device with paper/wood prototypes and provided a small-scale prototype for the judges to examine.

After the last presentation, the judges deliberated while Gary Robinson gave a talk titled “From idea to product…a fun journey?” Commending all the finalists before he started his talk, Gary remarked: “I’ve had Professors whose presentations are not so good.”

In his talk Gary ran through what people can do with their innovative ideas, emphasising the importance of rights and patents which can differ globally. He outlined what makes a good idea and noted that many good ideas emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. “If there is a need, people will come together,” he declared. He also reiterated the tech mantra: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better”. Gary finished by encouraging the youngsters to stay innovative, stating “there is always a need for new ideas”.

Next came the part of the event that everyone was waiting for: the announcement of the prize winners. Stefan described how “incredibly difficult” the judges’ decision had been. “We had to look at concept, practicality, novelty, ability to be scaled up and standard of presentation.”

Announcing the top three in time-honoured reverse order, Stefan called Oli and Elliot P forward as third place winners. “We were really impressed by these two young boys from Simon Langton, and the size of the potential market and related sustainability,” he said.

Louie from Kent College won second place, with Stefan calling him a “fantastic future engineer” and commending his drawings and model quality.

The first prize, to much applause from the audience, went to Zak from QEGS for his “Effortless Bench”. “His was not only a confident and assured pitch,” said Stefan, “but the simplicity of the design impressed us a great deal”.

Elliott J from SLBS received high commendation for his sailing device. “He has taken a problem from the sailing community and produced his own innovative solution,” said Stefan. Each of the winners was invited by turn to the front where they received their certificates and prizes from the Lord Mayor. All finalists present also received a consolation prize.

Speaking on behalf of CCCU and emphasising why the competition was important to them, Stefan commented how CCCU is “committed to engineering … and also committed to giving young people a voice.”

Finally, Maxine closed the event, thanking the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, the finalists, the judges, the audience, Canterbury Christ Church University (especially James Bennett), the sponsors (Brett Group, James Clague Architects Ltd and the Kentish Gazette) and Rotarian organisers, Brian Dobinson (who came up with the original idea) and Julie Reza. She ended with some words of encouragement for the finalists: “The amazing work you have done is something you should all be proud of….so to everyone, well done!”

Picture: All of the finalists, judges and some of the audience members that attended the event. Picture credit: Rotary Club of Canterbury

More pictures are available in an album on our Facebook page.

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