August 2018

Race for the Line - Students represent the county in national STEM competition

The ‘Race for the Line’ project aims to counter a shortage of scientists, engineers and mathematicians in the UK by inspiring young people to engage with STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) subjects through an exciting and competitive context.

Withernsea’s Race for the Line journey began on Monday 19th February when the students were first introduced to the project. On this occasion, they spent the day off-timetable to begin developing their ideas.

The day began with the students learning about the competition and the challenges involved in creating their designs. Many of these challenges, including considerations to weight, strength, aerodynamics and forces, will have mirrored those experienced by the Bloodhound SSC team in the creation of their vehicle.

Students created specifications for their models, with a particular focus on the overall shape of the body and wheel design.

Next came the development and prototyping stage where students began transferring their ideas from paper to production. This was followed by model assembly and a rigorous testing process, with students using ramps and gravity in lieu of rocket propulsion to test their vehicles’ performance.

Distance markers were positioned from the foot of each ramp to measure how far each model had travelled. This enabled students to accurately monitor how successful their designs were, indicating whether any modifications were required to improve results.

By the end of the day, students had completed fully working prototypes of their vehicles and were ready to enter the first stage of the competition.

This came on Wednesday 25th April when the students worked alongside members of the RAF, led by Communications / IT Engineer Andy Cooksley, to race their models.

Students spent the morning preparing, tweaking and modifying their designs in preparation for the race. These modifications included the fitting of special guide loops to each vehicle in order to attach them to the wire guidance system.

Meanwhile, the RAF engineers began assembling the outdoor test track which involved stretching two lengths of wire across the full length of the main playground. Using the newly fitted guide loops, the vehicles were attached to the wires to help them travel safely and securely in a straight line, passing through a computer measuring device in the process.

Each model was fitted with a small solid fuel rocket motor to power them along the test track. Expertly installed by the RAF, these powerful rockets were detonated by means of an electronic push-button - which the students took great delight in pressing themselves!

Approximately 25 vehicles raced on the day, with two teams in particular achieving some outstanding times. ‘Battle Bus’ and ‘Smooth Bill’ achieved race completion in 56 and 57.7 milliseconds respectively – which were some of the fastest times ever recorded by the visiting testers.

The Battle Bus team consisted of Ben Miller, Joshua Siddle and Thomas Middleton, while the Smooth Bill team were Sinead Brady and Eva Lambert.

Their results proved to be so successful that both teams instantly qualified to compete in the regional finals at RAF Leeming.

The regional finals took place on Thursday 3rd May and saw our teams competing against around 90 others from 30 schools across Yorkshire.

Once again, our teams did the school proud with Sinead and Eva qualifying alongside a team from Boroughbridge High School in North Yorkshire to secure places in the National Finals in Cambridgeshire.

The national finals took place at RAF Wittering, 10 miles north of Peterborough, on Thursday 28th June.

The event, the final of three stages, was the culmination of months of hard work and preparation which had begun earlier in the year with over 75,000 students working in 16,000 teams across the UK.

Now whittled down to around 50 teams, the national final proved to be the perfect platform to celebrate up-and-coming STEM talent.

Between races, students were treated to a series of static and airborne displays including flypasts by a Spitfire and an RAF Typhoon. However the highlight of the day was a stunning performance by the world-famous Red Arrows, whose breath-taking aerobatic manoeuvres captivated the audience. 

The event was attended by Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex, RAF Wittering’s Honorary Air Commodore, who met with the school teams and watched the final races.

Although Withernsea’s team sadly didn’t place within the top ten, they should still be immensely proud of their achievements – representing not only the school, but the county as a whole at a national level.

ABOVE: Building the models. February 2018.  

ABOVE: Testing the initial designs. February 2018.  

ABOVE: The distance travelled by the models was measured on each test run. This enabled modifications to be made to improve performance. February 2018.

ABOVE: Race Day - April 2018. Final modifications and tweaks were made to the models ahead of the race.  

ABOVE: Team 'Battle Bus', one of the Race Day winners.

ABOVE: Team 'Smooth Bill', the other Race Day winner.  

ABOVE: RAF Leeming - May 2018. Students prepare their models to race at the regional finals.

ABOVE: Success at RAF Leeming! Our teams make it through to the national finals.

ABOVE: Our students pictured at RAF Wittering on the day of the national finals.  

ABOVE: The Red Arrows in action at RAF Wittering during the national finals.