Pupils create an earthquake chair

A dozen windscreen wiper motors, some old furniture and the creative minds of five teenagers have all come together to produce a weird and wacky earthquake machine.

A dozen windscreen wiper motors, some old furniture and the creative minds of five teenagers have all come together to produce a weird and wacky earthquake machine.

Using the work of local inventor Tim Hunkin as their inspiration, five pupils were allowed to let their creative talents run wild and create a unique arcade-style attraction.

And yesterday, four months of hard work came to fruition as the machine was unveiled at Southwold Pier, which already boasts a number of Mr Hunkin's amazing inventions in its Under the Pier show.

The earthquake machine starts with the user sitting in an armchair watching a spoof news bulletin put together by the boys from Oriel High School, in Gorleston, and Great Yarmouth High School.

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As the anticipation grows, breaking news about an impending earthquake is announced. Within seconds the picture on the television screen breaks up and then the real action starts as the lights start flash, the armchair shakes and then a cuddly cat's eyes pop out as the coffee table collapses on it.

The curtains on the window flap as a motor blows in air and other household items shake before calm is restored. The machine powered by motors from windscreen wipers was at the pier for one day only and will now go on tour.

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The talented boys - Alistair Ferry, Jay Nichols, Nathan Brown, Raymond Lillie and Josh Clark - were chosen to take part in the Arcade Maniacs initiative run by the enterpriseGY group.

Entrants were encouraged to come up with idea for the wackiest, most entertaining machines possible, using their knowledge of design and science.

The finalists were chosen after submitting ideas for an initial design competition and met on a weekly basis with Gorleston-based engineering company Placepower to develop their creations.

Eventually they went for the idea tabled by Jay Nichols for an earthquake machine inspired by the work of Mr Hunkin, who also helped with the development of the project.

Mr Hunkin was one of the first people to try the machine yesterday and he was suitably impressed by the work of the young inventors.

He said: “I love all the detail and I like the fact you have to watch the television for quite a while before the earthquake, so you get quite nervous waiting for it to come.”

Alistair Ferry, 15, of Oriel High, said he was delighted the machine worked perfectly during its public debut yesterday following some teething problems.

“We were surprised it went because of the number of things that went wrong,” he added. “What got us through was a lot of hard work and a lot of sausage rolls!”

Great Yarmouth High pupil Jay, who is also 15, added: “It is great.”

The young inventors were presented with certificates by Yarmouth MP Tony Wright, who told them: “For somebody who has come from an engineering background, I am so pleased to be associated with this terrific project. It's an excellent machine and I'm sure you'll reap the benefits in the future.”

The machine will now visit enterpriseGY's headquarters at the Novus Centre in Yarmouth and local high schools before it appears at the National Science and Engineering Fair in London next March.

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