TRUSS participation in Willow Science Week 2015 (9th to 12th November) served the purpose of inspiring school children and motivating them to pursue an engineering career. In particular, the fellows Sofia Antonopoulou (ESR1), Rui Teixeira (ESR4), Daniel Martinez Otero (ESR12) and Siyuan Chen (ERS14), and the project manager, Loreto Manriquez, assisted in the organisation of the activity “Free-standing Structure Challenge” held in Willow Park Junior School, Dublin, on Tuesday 10th November. The activity was led by Dr. Aoife Ahern, leader of Work Package on Training in TRUSS, and Dr. John O’Sullivan and Dr Patrick J. Purcell, lecturers from UCD School of Civil Engineering. It gathered more than 100 children at the School’s Gym and it ran from 11.30 am to 1 pm. There were four 4th-form classes (about 9 years old), divided into six groups of about four boys each, i.e., a total of 24 groups. Each TRUSS fellow was assigned 6 groups to provide support.
The challenge consisted of building the tallest free-standing structure with 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 m of masking tape, 1m of string and 1 marshmallow. Building materials and tools were provided to all teams. The team could use as many or as few of the 20 spaghetti sticks, as much or as little of the string or tape, but no other additional material. The entire marshmallow needed to be on top of the structure. The winning team was the one that managed to build the tallest structure measured from a flat surface to the top of the marshmallow. Teams were not allowed to hold onto the structure when the time ran out. The four members of the winning team were awarded TRUSS-UCD hoodies and there were TRUSS lollipops for all children.