Students face ‘squashed tomato’ challenge

Updated 15/06/2015

Gower College Swansea’s Reaching Wider team recently played host to Dylan Thomas Community School, where Year 9 pupils took part in a practical engineering-focused activity called ‘The Squashed Tomato Challenge.’

This fun hands-on and brains-on challenge has been developed by Practical Action and is based on a real life problem affecting people in Nepal, where many farmers living on the mountainside grow fruit and vegetables, including tomatoes.

To earn a living they need to sell these at the local market - the problem is that getting to market involves a long, dangerous walk down the mountainside and over a river, at the end of which the tomatoes may well be a bit squashed. Therefore the challenge was to design, build and test a way of moving tomatoes that won't squash them.

Dylan Thomas pupils achieved a British Science Association CREST Discovery Award for successfully completing the day. The STEM enrichment activity was also praised by both staff and students from the school, with the winning design transporting four baskets of tomatoes!

David Bawden, part of the Reaching Wider team, commented: “The Squashed Tomato Challenge is a fun and exciting opportunity for school pupils to develop practical skills that can be applied to a real life situation. We were incredibly impressed with the talent and ingenuity showed by the pupils throughout the day.”