A TEAM of Alvechurch Middle School's year eight pupils recently travelled to Aston Fields Middle School to take part in the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s Faraday Challenge competition.

The national competition challenges teams to design, build, test and modify technological equipment to overcome a scientific challenge, all within a fixed budget and timescale.

This year's challenge was to build a prototype rocket for a planned mission to Mars and a vehicle to transport it from its assembly hall to the launch-pad. The rocket then had to be launched and make a successful test flight.

Competing against five other teams from other district middle schools, the Alvechurch team of Becky Gompertz, Lauren Dakin, Nicole Burdett, Owen Smith, Matt Bickerton and Luke McLinden, triumphed, coming away with Amazon vouchers and a trophy for the school. Additionally they are in with a chance to go forward to the national final later in the year.

The judges commented particularly on the student’s great teamwork, their innovative design, and the detailed design notes and modifications that they documented. All the team commented on how much they had enjoyed the day and several said it had made them more likely to follow a technology or engineering career later in life.

It has been a busy and exciting time for Alvechurch middle's pupils as they also recently experienced the music of African culture as part of an initiative by the newly appointed music teacher Chris Mikolajczyk.

The Pearl of African Children’s Choir from Uganda energized the music department by teaching the pupils uplifting songs, dances and drumming skills throughout the day. On the evening they performed to parents and pupils to give what was described by many parents as, a breathtaking concert, with the added pleasure of watching their own children performing on stage with the choir.

Mr Mikolajczyk said the he believed that every pupil should have access to music and drumming, singing and dancing is accessible by everyone regardless of musical ability. He said that the school orchestra is ‘going form strength to strength and the students are doing some fabulous work.’

The newly established Rock Praise Band are practising playing songs such as Tim Hughes' Happy, to Robbie Williams' Let Me Entertain you and will soon be ready to perform in the community.