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Motorsport Day Inspires Young Engineers

Wednesday, 07 October 2015

An activity day themed around motorsport engineering inspired forty-eight Year 8 and Year 9 pupils at Bolton School. This STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) day placed Boys’ and Girls’ Division pupils into mixed teams who had to work together to construct and test their own miniature electric racing car, which was then entered into a race at the end of the day on a rail racer track.

From designing their team logo and the look of their car’s cardboard bodywork to building the interior workings of the vehicles, everything was in the hands of the pupils. They were able to use a test track to see how fast their car would go, and then could tweak the design to improve performance.

At lunchtime, pupils were treated to a visit from members of the University of Bolton’s Motorsport Technology department, who brought with them two Ginetta racing cars, a G40 and G55. Pupils were not only able to sit in the driver’s seat, but even revved up the racing engines, filling the Riley Quad with the unmistakable sound of race cars! This was a really exciting opportunity for the pupils to experience functioning race cars first-hand and also talk to the University representatives about the different design features and mechanics of the cars.

Afterwards, pupils enjoyed a talk about careers in motorsport with former race driver Russell Howard and Professor Rory Perrett from the University of Bolton. After finishing his own career in motorsport, Mr Howard founded the website RaceStaff.com, which matches motorsport personnel with teams and companies. The Year 8 and Year 9 pupils got a real insight into the different ways to access motorsport as a career and the skills needed.

Finally the time came for each team to pit their electric car against the rest to see whose was the fastest along the seven metre long dual-rail track.

With an electronic timer at the end of the track, measuring down to hundredths of a second, the races made for a really dramatic end to the day. The cars went head-to-head over a series of knock-out rounds. The cars achieved incredibly fast speeds, some managing to complete the distance in less than three seconds! The final race-off between teams BPPB Peregrine and Velocity 4 was very close, but the ultimate winners of the competition were the members of Velocity 4: Matthew Cavaliere, Sara Salim, Flynn Saturley and Olivia Stubbs.

The girls from the winning team said, “This event was a great opportunity for girls as these activities are usually only available to boys. It was a good experience to learn new skills, work in mixed teams and get a taste of what engineering involves.”

Miss Rachel Langley, the Girls’ Division Head of Technology, said, “The girls who were involved in the joint Bolton School STEM day had applied to take part in the event, completing a form explaining how they would redesign a racing car to increase its speed. We were very impressed when the girls used words such as ‘aerodynamics’, ‘stream-lined’ and ‘drag’ in their design descriptions. Once selected and working in their mixed teams to build and competitively race their rail racer cars, the girls were not only focused and motivated but also determined to gain prize places.”

Boys’ Division Head of Technology Mr Chris Walker added, “The atmosphere was buzzing as teams were eliminated until the final three podium places were won. The event displayed pupils’ science and engineering talents to the full and also rewarded their team spirit and corporate identity. Podium place trophies were awarded by Mr Howard and all participants received T-shirts and caps as mementoes of the day.”

The STEM Day was organised by the Technology Departments in both Divisions. Pupils were assisted by staff and members of the Sixth Form throughout the day.

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Pupils with one of the University of Bolton

Pupils with one of the University of Bolton's race cars

Teamwork while building the miniature race cars

Teamwork while building the miniature race cars

The knock-out races at the end of the day were really dramatic

The knock-out races at the end of the day were really dramatic