I had a great morning this morning at CORE – we hosted Brenda Frisk from NextSpace and Paul Bray (pictured with me) from Re-engineering Australia (REA) talking to a group of teachers from local secondary schools about the F1 Challenge that Paul and his team have been running in Australia and other parts of the world for some years now.
The F1 in Schools Challenge is a competition in which groups of students (usually 5 in a team) design and manufacture CO2 powered model Formula One cars. Student teams compete against each other in a Regional, State and a National championship to determine the fastest and best engineered car for a chance to represent their country at the annual F1inSchools World Championships. It’s just like being in a real Formula One team!
The F1inSchools Challenge links exciting classroom experiences with careers through the development of employability skills whilst engendering passion for careers in the manufacturing and engineering domains. Students use a range of software, tools and processes that are used in real-life manufacturing and engineering industries, including high end CAD software, virtual wind tunnel simulations and CNC mill technologies.
The whole approach reminded me of the sorts of things that I was involved with back in the mid 1990s with the introduction of the Technology Curriculum, where we explored all sorts of ways of creating authentic and meaningful learning experiences for students to learn and about various forms of technology and the design process that underpins all such endeavours in the engineering and manufacturing worlds. The F1 challenge encapsulates all of this, providing a rich, cross-curricular context for students – and introducing them to a range of high end tools and techniques in the process!
There’s a strong emphasis on collaboration throughout the project – from the teamwork involved in the actual design and construction, to the way that schools work together to share some of the equipment – with an emphasis also on the use of advanced networks to enable the speedy exchange of data and video conferencing links.
Paul was here to speak with us about the prospect of bringing the F1 Challenge to schools in New Zealand in the near future – and exciting prospect indeed! There’s a useful video showing this process in action available on the REA site – it’s embedded below: