By Alex McNaughton, Head of Product Design
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.