In this guest blog, David McLean talks about their impressive journey so far.
There is no escaping that our country needs scientists, mathematicians and engineers both now and in years to come to keep our economy alive. It is therefore vital to motivate our young people at school and give them exciting experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) that can set them up with a career for life.
At Breadalbane Academy, one such experience is Greenpower Formula 24 – an international competition where pupils work as part of a racing team to build, race, modify and repair their own racing car. Our 2017 car and part of the team is shown in the picture below.
The car was built by pupils using a kit chassis from Greenpower. The body panels and nose cone were designed by the pupils. All cars use the same 24 V electric motor which was fitted by pupils, along with all of the electronics and braking system. The build of the car has given our pupils excellent experiences in the engineering and design of a racing car, but this is just the tip of the iceberg!
As a new team, our car is very much in the infancy of its design and the team have worked hard to enhance the car and increase its performance. This can be done through optimising the drive system through changing gearing, enhancing aerodynamics and maximising the reliability of the car. The team’s hard work was met with success at the East Fortune qualifying heat in May where the team scooped three trophies:
- Best Kit Car
- Best Presented Team
- 3rd Overall for Distance
The 3rd overall was enough to secure qualification in the International Final at Rockingham in October. The enthusiasm and excitement of the pupils involved was clear to see and the benefits of the project were being reaped through allowing young people to apply their STEM knowledge learned in school to an exciting practical application. Experiences of this quality really are worth their weight in gold for pupils!
Between the heat and the final, our team worked hard on the car to continue optimising its performance. This included trying different gearing, designing and programming an electronic monitoring and control system using an Arduino to monitor motor temperature – a key factor in the efficiency of the car. This system remains under development for the 2018 car. Some running repairs were also required and the team worked hard to fix front alignment and steering issues. All of this providing valuable experience for pupils; experiences that compliment and deepen what is taught in the classroom.
In October, the team headed for Rockingham to compete in the International Final against teams from all over the UK and beyond – we were competing against teams who had been racing for many more years, and teams fielded from Jaguar Land Rover, Cummins UK and Perkins to name but a few! However, we held our heads high throughout the weekend and gained huge amounts of knowledge from the wonderful experience that has motivated the team to aim higher and continue to get better and better!
On the Saturday, we competed in the International Kit Car final – a race for teams across the UK and beyond who use the standard Greenpower kits such as we are using. Although we won no awards overall, we consider it a huge success in just our second year of competition to be racing alongside teams of such high calibre.
On the Sunday, we competed in two races as part of the International Final – a qualifiers-only event, and an event we were superbly proud just to be part of at this stage. Our team trained hard, perfecting pit stops and learning the car inside out so they could keep it on track no matter what! Proudly lining up for the final.
Although we did not win any awards at the international final, we consider simply qualifying to be a huge achievement for the team at this stage – and this achievement would not have been possible if it was not for the generous sponsorship of sponsors including brightsolid. Specifically, in addition to helping us achieve our goals this season, sponsorship from brightsolid will be invested in the 2018 car to redesign the wheels and buy new tyres to improve aerodynamics and efficiency – the pupils have already started designing the wheels and we are excited to see this development on the car for testing ahead of the 2018 season!
Breadalbane would like to thank brightsolid for their sponsorship of the Formula 24 team. The value of the experiences pupils have had from this project cannot be overstated.
For more on brightsolid‘s community initiatives, look at our Corporate Social Responsibility page.