Year 9 Engineering pupils one step closer to F1 in school's dream 

Posted on: 23/11/2016

As a teacher I've wanted to start a Greenpower project in school for a number of years, but cost and logistics have always been the biggest hurdle. I've always thought of it as a Formula One for schools and just like Formula One, it costs a lot to play.  Having the support of the Rotary Club and the opportunity to build a Rotary Rocket has made it a possibility for our school. The Rotary Rocket takes a number of unknowns out of the equation, the plans are clear enough to construct the car without being too prescriptive and my pupils still have plenty of design and engineering work to get their teeth into. 

When the Rotary Club approached me about the build I was determined to make the project accessible to as many pupils as possible and not just create an afterschool club for a fortunate few. I decided to build the project into the Year 9 Engineering course. We currently have just under 50 pupils working on the build between two classes. They still can't quite believe they are building a car. They are set up like a formula one team with different departments made up of small groups of pupils. One team work on the chassis, another on the electrical system, plus other teams on brakes, steering, and drive train. 

While investigating the plans and regulations, they quickly realised they couldn't work in isolation and the teams are really pulling together and sharing ideas/resources so they can get the car built. Once a team hits a hurdle or needs to know a particular piece of engineering theory, we cover it as a whole class before the team apply it to their problem. The build can be made as simple, or as tricky as you like. Each part can be tailored to the equipment and processes you have in school. An example of this is the brake disc hub which is cast from aluminium in the plans, we don't have those facilities but can turn ours on a lathe from billet. The decisions pupils need to make over materials and processes opens up real engineering discussion on the merits and pitfalls of each option. It is real life, it is hands on and there are real consequences to their choices and mistakes. You can't ask for more than that in a project.

- Mr Farmer 

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