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17/09/2014

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CREST Award ideas for youth groups

CREST Award projects aren't just for schools. A whole range of youth groups have also run them very successfully. Although some of our suggested project ideas need access to a lab, or specialised scientific equipment, there are lots that don't! Whether that's building go-karts, conducting wildlife surveys or testing which wing shapes make the best paper airplanes, there are lots of ways you can find great projects that suit your normal activities and equipment.

A great project can be research based, or focus on science communication. The most important thing is that there is an element of investigation and exploration, and that the project sets out to answer a question or solve a problem. This could involve research using books, the internet, conducting surveys or interviewing people - so youth groups who aren't based in schools can still find lots of ways to conduct fantastic CREST Award projects.

You can find lots of examples of pick-up-and-run project resources focusing on communication and research, or see some highlights from our project ideas - that we think work really well for youth groups. You can read case studies from some youth groups who have completed CREST Awards too!

31 (Tower Hamlets) Air Cadets

Boreatton Scout Troop

Project ideas: Bronze

Investigate and suggest a ‘waste-free’ lunch programme

Objective: To introduce a school lunch programme to a school/college. The programme should encourage pupils to use recycled or re-usable packaging for their lunches.

Working with a youth group: Why not adapt this to make it relevant to your group? Perhaps you could talk about the importance of minimising packaging for food you take when you go camping? If you do Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, you could link this in to your expedition training. (And don’t forget… your CREST project can be used to satisfy the Skills section of the DofE Award too!)

Steps to get started: You could ask your group to produce a leaflet and/or poster presentation to explain why it’s important to cut down on waste and suggest types of reusable packaging to use. You could also carry out some tests on reusable packaging to check it’s suitable. Your group could investigate what sorts of packaging people use at the moment, and analyse how much of it is reusable. Why not ask people to record how people they know dispose of rubbish (do they recycle? if so, how much/ how often?) Get the group to present their findings, along with their suggestions on how to cut down on unncessary food waste.

Stargazing

Objective: To find out about apparent stellar (star) magnitudes then draw and label some constellations.

Working with a youth group: This could be a great project for youth groups who focus on outdoor activities. Your members could carry out some research through books/the internet, and put their findings in to action by observing the night sky.

Steps to get started: You could start of by doing some internet research using the keywords 'apparent' and 'magnitude'. There are useful planetarium resources online too, such as www.stellarium.org which can be a good starting point. Ask your teams to design a simple key to sketch the positions and brightness of the major stars in each of the constellations - label these diagrams, and think about how you could relate them to the night sky. You could challenge your groups to find out whether the well-recognised star patterns they might be familiar with are actually constellations (tip: ask them to research the term 'asterism') or they could look in to whether all cultures have the same constellations.

Build and test a model rocket kit

Objective: Design an experiment around rocketry, think about the designs of rockets, how they work, and what other features you could add to a model rocket to improve performance.   

Working with a youth group: This is a great project for aviation themed youth groups like the Air Cadets and Girls Venture Corps. Your organisation may be able to provide you with even more expertise and guidance, to help you tie rocketry into your training programme. Air powered rockets could be a good alternative if your group aren't able to use rockets with engines.

Steps to get started: Most good toy and model shops sell model rockets. A small chemical engine is ignited by an electric controller, and the rocket blasts off. The rocket engine usually has a two-stage action, the first propelling the rocket, and the second firing a recovery parachute. The chemical rocket engines come in different 'powers' and can fire the rockets to different heights. Your group could think of different experiments they want to try, examine the design of the rocket, compare different styles and models, and hypothesise as to which would perform better under certain conditions.

Project ideas: Silver

Design & build a simple model catamaran for testing a range of sails

Objective: Investigate the properties needed for a sail to use on a catamaran. Research the properties needed, and common designs.

Working with a youth group: This project is particularly suitable for nautical groups, like Sea Cadets or even summer sailing clubs. As well as running the design and experiment part of the project, you could end the investigation with a competitive element, perhaps a race to see who has designed the best sail.

Steps to get started: You should start this project with some research. Find out about how sails “work”; what are the aerodynamic principles of a sail? Gather information on the main types of sail including the more traditional types of sail. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of sail? Here is a list of some sail types to investigate: Bermudan, gaff, lugsail, lateen, square rig.

Design a bespoke fitness regime and diet for an athlete

Objective: Produce a bespoke fitness regime and diet for a chosen athlete or sportsman. Investigate how to measure any improvements in fitness and performance and include guidelines for self-assessment, so your chosen athlete can test themselves.

Working with a youth group: This research-focused project is suitable for any youth group that involves sports or physical training. It can be researched using books and the internet, and you could even conduct experiments within your group, testing the impact of different training programmes on sports performance.

Steps to get started: This can be tailored to a specific sport, or just be designed for someone who wants to improve their general fitness. Research different muscle groups, and think about what exericses could target those groups. Look in to how energy drinks and bars work, and decide whether they should be included in a balanced diet for an athlete. You could do this as a theoretical exercise, or actually test out your ideas and training plans as an ongoing experiment.

Make, finish and test ceramic jewellery

Objective: Design and shape beads and/or pendants to make a necklace or bracelet, using clay as your ceramic.

Working with a youth group: This project could work for a wide range of youth groups and after school clubs. Jewellery clay is easy and cheap to buy online – and can be used with a range of different paints and jewellery wire. You can finish the clay product in a standard home oven – and there are lots of online tutorials available to help you do so, search on youtube for some useful videos.

Steps to get started: Research the techniques used to make ceramic jewellery, and different ways of finishing the clay. Find out about different colouring products that can be used, and the various ways you can protect your clay. Once you've designed and made the jewellery, carry out tests to see how strong it is.