Gearing up for the F1 Challenge

REA_Paul_Bray.jpg 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:

2 thoughts on “Gearing up for the F1 Challenge

  1. Some of the questions I would ask are:
    What credits could students obtain?
    How long does the project run for?
    What technology is required? and
    When will it be launched in NZ?

    It looks wonderful and exciting, but can it be applied to students in a small, rural NZ school?

    I would so love for something like this to be happening in schools in my cluster.

  2. Hi Conor

    these are exactly the questions we’ve been talking about with REA – so hopefully I can give some clarity here based on where we’re up to…

    Important to note that this programme is designed to operate in clusters of schools (usually 5-6) with the milling machine and race track etc being located in one of these, or alternatively in a local business or university, polytech etc. The equipment is usually paid for from sponsorship from local businesses, or owned by one of hte schools etc.

    Re Credits – depends totally on the jurisdiction, and in NZ would be up to individual schools to ideintify where this might contribute. So far we’ve had discussions with secondary teachers who see possibilities in senior school graphics, physics and design – and of course there are all sorts of opportunities for cross curricular work in the junior secondary classes.

    Re length – there’s no fixed time, however many schools are running this up to a semester (half year) and others within a ten week term

    Re technology – schools in this programme are provided with the software (over $1m worth at full commercial rates) for $1500 – they’d need the hardware with sufficient RAM etc to run it. The major hardware (including the CNC mill etc) is located at the central site or hub school.

    We are hoping to bring an initial trial of the programme to some schools in CHCH and Wellington by the end of July this year – with a fuller implementation across more schools/regions in 2009

    There’s no reason why it can’t operate within rural schools (it does in Australia) – will depend entirely on whether they are prepared/able to commit to the requirements re gear etc and able to get local sponsorship.

    Hope that’s helpful – more specifc details will come shortly…

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