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Pupils have a gas with Formula One project

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Saltus Grammar School model cars, from left at back - Michael Wollmann, James Hassard, Samson Douglas and John Ewels. Front left to right- Cedar Chew, Daniel Exell, Shannon Hassard and Laura Hope (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The thrills and spills of the racetrack came to Saltus Grammar School yesterday, as students tested out their engineering skills in a Formula One Model Car Challenge.

The students designed and built the cars out of styrofoam and the models reached speeds of up to 70mph on an 80ft racetrack in front of an impressed audience.

But the project was not just about the excitement and glamour of a Grand Prix in your own school: it was part of a design and manufacturing course encouraging the future generation of engineers by teaching about technical principles such as aerodynamics, structures, and state-of-the-art machinery.

Laura Hope, 17, who is interested in studying both design technology and sports in college, described the class as a great opportunity.

She told The Royal Gazette she had been taking the course for six years because she has “always liked building stuff” and “being creative”.

Fellow classmate Shannon Hassard, 16, is new to the subject but loves the creative aspect.

“You have your own idea and you have to make it yourself,” she said.

The project took about six weeks to complete. Students spent the first week planning their design by sketching and researching, and the remaining time building their creations.

The cars were then put to the test on the racetrack where they were sent soaring by a small CO? canister.

Design technology teacher Patrick Mahon said the class was about preparing students for the creative industry. He explained that the design process could be applied to other fields.

He added that it teaches students to be “innovative and creative” and how to solve problems. He has taught the course for seven years at Saltus and believes that it offers “a reflection of the real world”.

“The Formula One Car Challenge was created by Denford in the UK, which produces CAD/CAM machinery,” said Phillip Heap, head of design technology.

“Its philosophy was to try and encourage the future generation of engineers and set them a range of tasks, challenging principles of Stem.

“The F1 in engineering replicates the technical principles involved in F1 Grand Prix racing: aerodynamics, structures, and CAD/CAM technology.

“We hope this encourages our students to think about future careers in engineering and previous participants have successfully used this project to discuss at college interviews.”

Other projects in the design and manufacturing class have included architecture, engineering, and building projects.

Saltus Grammar School model cars (Photograph by Akil Simmons)