At the end of April the Bloodhound Education team, combined with the BBC micro:bit project launched a huge competition for secondary school children; The Model Rocket Car Challenge.
Supported by the army and Microsoft among others, and forming part of the Guinness World record rocket car challenge, school teams are challenged to make foam rocket cars and race them through approved tracks; the aim of course, to be the fastest!
The races are being organised through the network of Bloodhound hubs and will see a series of regional heats that will lead up to a final at the end of June at the Santa Pod Raceway in Northamptonshire. The winners will spend a day watching Bloodhound test runs as well as securing a financial prize for their school.
Students have rocket car kits, the main component of which is their foam model which can be modified to improve aerodynamics etc. However, in previous years competitions like this have been based upon estimates and guesswork when it comes to data and results. It has been a case of trial and error. However the incorporation of the BBC micro:bit now gives students much more accuracy and flexibility. The mciro:bit is attached to the car and students can download data, analyse the performance of their car and engineer developments based on the information they have.
The Bloodhound team have trained a network of regional hubs including colleges, teaching schools and university technical colleges specifically to support the competition with teaching resources, briefings and race day support.
The Bloodhound Education Project was set up with the specific aim of getting more children interested in STEM subjects and inspiring them to become the next generation of scientists and engineers. Thousands of schools have registered for the resources and many other professional institutions have seen presentations.
There are many initiatives to inspire our children into considering careers in STEM subjects but the Bloodhound project is unique in the information it provides. It not only has great initiatives like the Model Rocket Car Challenge but it also makes all the information about the research, design, building and testing of the Bloodhound car available to teachers and students.
The ultimate aim is to break the land speed record and achieve speeds in excess of 1,000 mph. But that’s not the only aim of Bloodhound. By giving so much access to information about the project and setting up Bloodhound Education, it is hoped that this project will produce a longer term legacy by inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.
The car is nearly 13.5 metres long and has over 3500 components, most of which were designed and engineered specifically for this car. It is powered by both a jet engine and a rocket which together produce more than 135,000 horsepower.
The project team is expansive and consists of some of the most revered engineers in the world. In addition to those working directly on the car there is a large team working hard on the education and communication projects.
It is hoped the car will complete UK testing and go over to South Africa to begin test runs later in 2017.
There is no doubt that there is continuing worry in the UK over the projected numbers of new engineers for the future and the unrestricted access that schools have to this project can only be a good thing. CEO of PRV Engineering Simon Jones believes that when it comes to science and engineering schools have a big role to play saying “Unless youngsters get excited by it in school, how are they going to get excited about it when they reach an age where they can go out to work?”