On a sunny Bank Holiday Monday on 29 May 2023, APM Scotland Branch made a trip to St Ninians Primary School in Livingston, specifically to engage with Primary 7 youngsters who were looking for an activity to raise their interest and develop some new skills before breaking off for the school holidays.
It was Branch member Mathew Varghese’s suggestion that APM Scotland Branch mentors could help facilitate a project management challenge for the youngsters to help them develop into high performing teams with Build a Car Challenge.
The School Principal, Ms Purdie, was very keen to get the children involved in an engaging and energetic activity that would provide a different experience for them.
12 children volunteered to get involved and were split into two teams with two APM Mentors on each team to assist where needed. The teachers also submitted a team but seriously deep down, we all knew the young people would take the lead and this just helped with the competitive edge surrounding the challenge.
Amos Haniff, APM Scotland Branch Chair, shared the brief and introduced the mentors to the respective teams.
The first part of the activity introduces team working concepts and part two provides an opportunity to apply learning. The task of building a bridge and a car should be easy, but the participants brief is ambiguous, bringing an interesting challenge for the participants. The teams are all provided with the same equipment, but how effectively will they use this and their respective mentors and how they clarify their objectives and develop plans before starting work, will determine how well they progress.
The background to the event is an offering from Heriot Watt University and APM Scotland Branch with the loan of Project Car Kits for a Project Challenge called Over the Bridge. APM Scotland Branch have an ongoing objective that we aim to engage with young people and promote project management to groups which may not normally have had the opportunity to be involved in project management previously. However, by engaging with them, it might spark their interest for the future and a career in Project Management. Our aim is to promote project management, share PM skills and some knowledge to young people during the event and to promote their skills and open up APM to more diverse groups, whilst having some fun.
The young people were keen to get started and both teams split themselves into two teams, one working on the bridge and one working on the car building. The communication and trying different approaches, which was later summed up as failing fast and trying alternative approaches whilst working out the best solutions. The event lasted just over an hour, and then the Chair and mentors got together to decide the winners.
Once the event was completed and winners received their prizes for best bridge and best car, the whole event resulted in a draw and was seen overall as a huge success. The young people definitely enjoyed taking part and shared their learning. They did win overall in many ways from the experience, and we can honestly say that there was absolutely no bias shown against the teacher’s team and the young people should be very proud of their efforts. Afterwards APM Mentor, Adam Quin, held a reflection learning session with the young people and they themselves stated what they had taken away from their involvement and highlighted the following learning points from participating in the event:
- Project work
- Critical thinking
APM Scotland Branch mentors – Amos Haniff, Mathew Varghese, Shirley Conway, Rachel Neilson and Adam Quin