High-tech challenge revving up science study

Gifted: Brett Sizeland with the Formula 1 race car given to the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation in Castle Hill. He designed a model F1 car to reach speeds of up to 100km/h, propelled by a soda bulb, while a F1 in Schools participant. Picture: Natalie RobertsWith a McLaren Formula 1 race car a tangible example of the engineering behind the fastest of vehicles, schools may well race to take part in the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation’s F1 in Schools technology challenge.

The vehicle was recently donated to the Castle Hill-based foundation, which aims to get students as young as 10 interested in science, mathematics and engineering.

REA founder Michael Myers said students will take between 13 weeks and a year to design, manufacture and market a model Formula 1 car.

Students from William Clarke College, Kellyville, have taken part in the big challenge.

“It’s about letting kids touch the most advanced technology and realise they can also design like that,” Dr Myers said.

“Theoretically, it’s called action learning. They get to understand why we do maths and how that relates to a real job.

“We’re a catalyst to get kids interested . . . and the teachers take over and bring the maths and science together.”

This includes equations, wind tunnel tests, and aerodynamics before students precision cut a 65 millimetre-wide block of balsa wood into a race car.

Dr Myers said 500,000 students have completed the program nationally since 2002, and about 64 per cent changed their career choice as a result.

Brett Sizeland, who works at Castle Hill, completed the F1 in Schools challenge five times and placed fifth at the Singapore World Championship in 2009. The event attracts 9 million students.

“I learnt a lot of engineering skills from that like CAD [computer-aided design],” he said.

“We talked to uni students when we were doing the project and they were jealous because they didn’t get to touch it until second or third year at uni and we were doing it in years 8 and 9 at high school.”

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