Thanks to the generosity of the Bedales Parents’ Association (BPA), this year the Design department has brought the Greenpower Competition – a significant and highly competitive design and engineering competition for secondary schools – to Bedales.
The Greenpower Education Trust is a UK based charity which gets young people enthusiastic about science and engineering by challenging them to design, build and race an electric car. Established in 1999, Greenpower now work with 300 schools, with around 500 teams participating in the competition’s classes: Formula Goblin (for children aged 9-11); Formula 24 (for children aged 11-16); and Formula 24+ (for young people aged 16-25).
As a number of Bedales students from Block 3 to 6.2 have a keen interest, aptitude and sympathy for design, technology and engineering, many of whom have previously expressed a desire to take part in the competition, we saw an opportunity to launch a Greenpower team – initially in the Formula 24 category – for a group of students to work throughout the year to build and improve a vehicle to race at nationally organised events, which are hosted at top race circuits such as Goodwood, Dunsfold, Castle Combe and Rockingham.
Our Greenpower team is open to anyone in school who wishes to participate – students and staff alike. As well as offering a practical outlet for students who have either not chosen or been able to choose to study Design, it gives students who are going on to study an engineering discipline at university a fantastic way to bolster their UCAS application and CV. The project also promotes cross-curricular collaboration, with the Physics department contributing time and expertise.
To get the team up and running, the BPA kindly funded cost of a complete kit to build a functioning vehicle, bodywork and battery charger for the vehicle, specialist tools and safety clothing for drivers and pit crew. This year we are learning many valuable lessons by rebuilding and improving a second hand kit car. Our long-term plan is to build a car from scratch to compete annually, continually improve our vehicles to make them more efficient and highly competitive.
We currently have a team of 12 eager and motivated students from every year group who meet each week to build and develop our car for the 2022 season. The first race is in April which we are on course to compete in.
The Greenpower Competition is fundamentally about producing an energy efficient electric car. It is ideally placed to promote and practically demonstrate the increasingly important and prominent issues of sustainability and the vital role of technology within this field.
6.1 Product Design students have been continuing with the first full project of their A Level studies: designing a learning space to be placed somewhere on the school grounds. This project was to be inspired by a notable designer and feature the use of two particular materials; each student was allocated a different designer and combination of materials. We were then asked to come up with conceptual ideas to be expanded upon at a later date. These would be represented by research and design work in our sketchbooks, a scale model and a CAD model using SolidWorks. Final presentation boards were presented to Old Bedalian Patrick Lewis, a practising architect based in London who is running the project alongside Bedales Head of Product Design Alex McNaughton.
Unfortunately, as we re-entered lockdown in January, most students have been unable to continue their model-making at home, so this has been delayed until later in the year. However, it was possible for us to continue our projects using Adobe InDesign and Photoshop along with SolidWorks from home on their own computers. In-house video tutorials aided us in progressing independently alongside our online classes and one-to-one instruction.
These sessions allowed us to create a wide range of impressive presentation boards, which were presented to Patrick. We each had a window of time to talk Patrick and Alex through our final design at the online group critique presentation session on 28 January, before we received feedback from Patrick about how we could continue and improve our projects.
My project was to combine the beautiful campus and the high-quality Music and Drama of Bedales into a missing element; an outdoor stage inspired by Charles and Ray Eames (my allocated designers), using concrete and plywood (my allocated materials). Other projects included quiet reading areas, sensory learning spaces for Dunannie, social areas and a library/café.
Patrick seemed to be impressed by a scope of designs produced by 6.1 students and we hope to be able to present our evolved and developed ideas, a scale model, and revised and improved presentation boards to Patrick in person later in the year.
On 21 November, the 6.2 Product Design class visited Broanmain Ltd, a specialist technical plastics moulder. Broanmain is a family-owned company, which has been operating for over 60 years. They support a wide range of industries from aerospace, electronics and defence to the science sector and consumer goods.
After a presentation on how the injection moulding machines work, Broanmain’s Operations Director, Jo Davis, and Production Manager, Thomas Catinat, showed us around their factory.
Whilst the core of their business is focused on producing injection moulded polymer components, they are one of only 15 companies in the UK to operate specialist thermoset compressive moulding machines. The key difference with these to the usual thermoplastics is that the material is not re-mouldable, and is therefore non-recyclable.