Over the course of the week before the Halloween Mid-term break, myself and three other members of this year’s 5th Engineering class (alongside Mr. O’Neill and Mr. Connell) ventured out of the school workshop and into a new European project that we are extremely proud, as a school community, to be a part of (considering that this is alongside the ‘Kiss The Cook’ European project that’s ongoing at present!)

The Magical Moving Machine for Europe, or better called ‘3M4EU’, is a collaborative Engineering and STE(A)M based project that involves working with other schools within the European Union, under the Erasmus+ EU Education Programme. The eventual goal of this particular project is to present a contraption that shows a variety of movements within that system; although at the time, the meaning of a ‘magical moving machine’ to our own Irish group was open to interpretation!

To launch the project to the member schools in Germany, Slovenia, Italy, Portugal and Croatia, the first meeting took place in Bad Kreuznach in Germany; about an hour away from the major population hubs of Frankfurt and Mainz along the Rhine River. And there was certainly some pressure leading up to that faithful first encounter because believe it or not, Newpark are assigned as the project coordinator for this 2 year-long endeavour! From flights to vague ideas to even a logo design to be voted on, it’s bound to be an exciting trip for all involved!

The town itself, I would say, could be pictured as a blend of Killiney, Sandymount and Dundrum in terms of how busy and beautiful it is… considering that this is deep within the German countryside! It’s full of interesting landmarks such as the numerous ‘Salinas’ (reed bed structures that were used to collect salt from underground deposits of the old seabed the town sits on) and the Alte Nahebruke, one of the last bridges in the world to have houses on it (yes, actual houses that are sadly, currently vacant.) It’s safe to say that we enjoyed Bad Kreuznach, having ate in many restaurants, walked many kilometres during our guided walk and passing through the aforementioned landmarks and picturesque scenery!

An interesting sight to see would be the presence a large manufacturing firm in this area, such as KHS (a manufacturer of systems that fills your Coke bottles and Guinness’ kegs for pubs). It’s amazing to not only see the tidy and clean facilities around, but also demonstrated the craftsmanship and meticulous processes of its workers that gives Germany its reputation for reliable and high quality products around the world!

And if the sights of the rather quaint town weren’t enough for everyone in the trip, Thursday saw us exploring the fabulous Rhine Valley around the Rhine! And as ever, it didn’t disappoint despite the early morning fog limiting the views! From cable cars and chair lifts that literally go through people’s back gardens, to a visit to the medieval Rheinstein Castle and another food trip with the sloping valley as your backdrop; this and our final climb through the incredibly scenic Rotenfels on Friday was an appropriate conclusion to our ‘working week’!

So, in between all of the travel and touring, did we get anything on the project done? Well, of course we did! There was a wide variety of ideas being put forward by both students and teachers and over the course of the week, our minds simply wouldn’t stop thinking about what the end result would be in 2 years’ time!

In fact, for us who were native speakers of English in the project, we actually found it hard to communicate to the others because of the faster pace and our wider knowledge of the language, and we needed to adapt and change the way we spoke in order for them to understand us and have a common understanding of our ideas to our working groups!

Looking back to this first meeting, it was a success for many reasons, but an important achievement would be the establishment of a common ground of friendship and comradery amongst the group! We mingled with various people who share common interests with us, hearing funny stories and sharing facts about life within their own countries. And in an era where the EU is facing plenty of criticism and challenges within the institution, we believe that this initiative is promoting the ‘European Spirit’ and shows that with unity, we can achieve things we couldn’t imagine to be possible!

Watch this space over the next few editions of the Newsletter as we outline the outcomes of the following trips and the overall result of this wonderful project!

Slobodan Teodorovic and Shawn Lorenzo
Senior Cycle Engineering Students (2019-2021)
Newpark Comprehensive School, Dublin, Ireland

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