University of Sheffield boffins and kids gain Guinness World Record

Musical youngsters across the UK have hit the right note and gained a Guinness World record thanks to the boffins at the University of Sheffield.

Wednesday, 28th August 2019, 14:38 pm
University of Sheffield boffins help 88 children play a piano all at once

The primary school musical youth broke the record for the most people playing one piano after teaming up with engineers and musicians from the top university.

The pioneering record, which was part of a national outreach project led by the University of Cambridge, saw 88 children play a piano using a range of mechanical inventions developed by school pupils to mark 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci.

Researchers and students from the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering, Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Department of Music helped primary schools in Sheffield prepare for the record attempt by working with pupils to develop their mechanical inventions, showcased on BBC’s One Show.

Dr Candice Majewski from the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, who co-ordinated the University’s involvement in the project, said: “This whole experience has been incredible from start to finish. The enthusiasm and creativity of the school children we’ve worked with has been way beyond what we expected, and we’re very grateful to the teachers who so willingly welcomed us into their classrooms.

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“The final performance was even more exciting than we'd hoped. There were audible gasps from the audience as the curtain lifted to show all the contraptions on stage, and the standing ovation at the end seemed like it would never end! It was a wonderful end to such an inspiring project.”

As part of the project, academics and students from the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering helped pupils at Hallam Primary School and Lydgate Junior School develop six different finger designs. These designs were used in the final performance that set the new world record.

Engineers from the University’s AMRC worked with Brockwell Junior School, Greenside Primary School and Woodthorpe Community Primary School to design and manufacture seven inventions that were also used in setting the new record.

Combining science and art, the 88 Pianists project saw engineers and musicians from the University take part in engineering and music outreach days, which helped children in the region learn about da Vinci, musical instruments and mechanical engineering.

The world record was successfully achieved in front of over 500 leading engineers from around the world who had gathered in Birmingham’s International Convention Centre (ICC) for an annual meeting.

It’s now hoped the new Guinness World Record can also inspire a new generation of engineers and musicians.

The University of Sheffield AMRC also machined the large, metallic c-plate which connected the 88 mechanical extendable fingers to the piano.

Senior Technical Fellow, Dr Erdem Ozturk, who led the AMRC’s involvement in the project, said: “Our role was to unlock the inventive, problem solving impulse in every child and to challenge perceptions about engineering in the classroom.

And added: “What better way to do that than by combining science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with art and music.

“As engineers at the AMRC, we are keen to help foster the children’s sense of creativity by showing that seemingly different subjects like music and engineering have something in common: creativity.”

Katie Muller, a music student from the University, worked with the STEM club at Brockwell Junior School in Chesterfield to introduce pupils to the different musical concepts that their inventions would need to cope with.