This week’s enrichment activities look at environmentally friendly alternatives to transport and grounds maintenance

Using a cardboard bicycle design as inspiration, this week’s primary enrichment activity asks pupils to design a cardboard pedal car as an environmentally friendly transport solution.

This week’s secondary enrichment activity looks at environmentally friendly grounds maintenance and the preservation of traditional agricultural skills. ***Primary Enrichment***

KS1 Design and technology: Knowledge and understanding of materials and components

Pupils should be taught:

  • about the working characteristics of materials [for example, folding paper to make it stiffer, plaiting yarn to make it stronger]
  • how mechanisms can be used in different ways [for example, wheels and axles, joints that allow movement].

Recyclable cycles and cardboard cars

Bad news for keen cyclists: on average a bicycle is stolen in England every 71 seconds. Phil Bridge, a product design student at Sheffield Hallam University, has come up with a new kind of bicycle which may solve this, as well as other problems.  For his final year project, Phil has designed a bicycle made of cardboard and, as he explained, ‘the lightweight quality of the cardboard, combined with its low cost, means it’s possible to create a bargain bike that’s also less susceptible to thieves.’ Because normal cardboard wouldn’t offer the necessary strength, Phil used Hexacomb board, a cardboard with a hexagon structure inside it. Hexacomb board is very strong and, importantly in bike design, will not lose its strength in wet conditions. Phil described the material as ‘inherently waterproof at the point of manufacture,’ and estimated that if a manufacturer could see the potential in his idea it could eventually be available to buy for as little as £15. One bike would be produced per sheet of cardboard, including frame and wheels (other materials would be used for the chain, tyres, etc). It would last about six months if used on a daily basis for getting around, but ‘not for racing,’ Phil cautioned. Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss: A cardboard bike is an innovative idea. Ask children to consider the design of a cardboard pedal car. If the cost of a cardboard bike is estimated as being £15 it is not inconceivable that a cardboard pedal car for two people would cost no more than £50.

  • Ask children to design a three- or four-wheel pedal car suitable for two adults and their weekly shopping.
  • Two standard sheets of industrial quality cardboard may be used for the structural bodywork (cardboard is sold by standard pallet size so you could choose an appropriate size to use depending on what resources you can provide).
  • The use of non-cardboard material should be minimal.


Designing a cardboard car

Going further
After the design has been thoroughly evaluated, the car could be made as a prototype if circumstances allow and the materials plus expertise are available. The prototype could be used as a means of evaluating the idea and attracting further funding through publicity. Be inspired by the People’s Eco-rally from Brighton to London.

Cardboard bike story

Cardboard bike designer interview

Examples of Hexacomb board suppliers, at Pregis and Services Container


Cardboard used to produce mathematical models

People’s Brighton-London Eco-rally


Learning and Teaching Scotland

5-14 Curriculum: Technology “At the heart of technology education is the engagement of children with practical tasks that lead to products that serve a need, solve a problem or, in a word, `work’. To be successful at this, children need specific skills such as being able to measure and cut accurately and broader ones such as being able to work with other members of a team. Other abilities are important too, such as being able ‘to see how things might be done’.”

International Baccalaureate

Group 4: experimental sciences – design technology In their application of scientific methods, students develop an ability to:

  • analyse
  • evaluate, and
  • synthesize scientific information.

A compulsory project encourages students to appreciate the environmental, social and ethical implications of science. This exercise is collaborative and interdisciplinary: students analyse a topic or problem which can be investigated in each of the science disciplines offered by the school. It is also an opportunity for students to explore scientific solutions to global questions.

***Secondary Enrichment***

KS3 Geography: Geography enquiry

Pupils should be able to:

  • identify bias, opinion and abuse of evidence in sources when investigating issues
  • find creative ways of using and applying geographical skills and understanding to create new interpretations of place and space

Sheep are grazing the graveyard, but who is shearing the sheep? Four sheep are causing controversy in an East Sussex churchyard. The diocese agreed to allow the sheep to graze part of the graveyard, as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way of maintaining the grass. However relatives of people buried there have complained that the sheep are behaving badly; eating floral tributes, breaking stonework and digging into shingle on graves. The sheep themselves may also be in need of some trimming. The number of sheep shearers has been declining for the last ten years and the Scottish Shearing Association (SSA) believes the problem will get worse, with fewer young people learning how to shear. The problem is being exacerbated by a shortage of workers from abroad. Traditionally, shearing teams from Australia and New Zealand travel to Europe to shear from April to August, starting in Spain where sheep are shorn first, and moving north until they reach Iceland, before returning to work in the southern hemisphere in September. However, competition for workers and the strength of the pound mean that Scottish farmers are struggling to find enough shearers. The SSA is organising a ‘golden ticket’ competition for shearers this August, offering the prize of a trip to New Zealand. The Association hopes that the excitement of international travel might tempt more young workers to consider shearing. Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

  • How would pupils go about encouraging the relatives of those buried in St Mary’s churchyard to accept the sheep? (Would they like to set up a special P-Baa agency perhaps?)
  • How would pupils increase the number of sheep shearers to meet the needs of farmers? Other traditional occupations – such as dry stone walling, reed cutting and thatching – have seen organised interventions to prevent declines in workers. Do pupils consider it important to prevent certain skills being lost?
  • Referring to both ovine stories, ask pupils to consider the potential risks involved in a society becoming more distant to the reality of agriculture.


Sheep shearing and grass cutting

Going further

Ask pupils to propose a novel grass management scheme for their school’s grounds or for an appropriate local grassed area. This may or may not involve sheep. They could for instance invite a ‘flying flock’ to graze temporarily, like the flock being used to restore Sussex downland to its tree-less state  

Article about the controversial graveyard maintenance scheme in East Sussex

Article about the falling number of sheep shearers in Scotland

British Wool Marketing Board chief executive on low wool prices

Research that finds sheep recognise faces and pine for lost friends


Research that finds humans behave like sheep

Learning and Teaching Scotland

5 – 14 Curriculum: Environmental Studies – Society, Science and Technology

People and Place

“The study of social subjects is central to the development of pupils’ understanding of their place in the world. In social subjects pupils learn about the diversity of human experience, both today and in the past, in their local area and further afield. They learn how to research, sift through and evaluate information and evidence and then present their point of view – skills that are important for adult life.”

International Baccalaureate
Group 3: individuals and societies (geography)

… the development of a critical appreciation of:

  • human experience and behaviour
  • the varieties of physical, economic and social environments that people inhabit
  • the history of social and cultural institutions.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in June 2008

About the author: John Senior is the author of Enrichment Activties for G&T Pupils. He is a teacher with 26 years’ experience of teaching Gifted and Talented children, working with parents and carers as a consultant on high ability, and peer mentoring.