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Greenpower Zooms Back into Cornwall
The annual Greenpower event zoomed back into the county last week as over 1500 school pupils gathered at Newquay Cornwall Airport to race electric cars that they designed and built from scratch.
The annual Cornwall College South West Regional Heat of the Greenpower schools electric car races, organised by Cornwall College, which along with teachers, parents and volunteers saw over 2500 people through the gates, is the culmination of months of hard work from primary and secondary schools across the region and further afield.
The competition allows children to design and build electric cars, finding their own sponsors, resources and support they need to make their designs reality. The project incorporates maths, engineering, physics, design, marketing, team building, technology, problem solving & communication, and following its success in these areas, many schools now incorporate Greenpower into their curriculum.
This year the event was held over two days to make room for the growing number of teams wanting to take part. On Wednesday 20th June 70 cars from primary schools Cornwall and Devon took to the track trying to pip their peers to the post. Children raced in the ‘Goblin Formula’ event. Each school is supplied with a kit car which has to be built by the team in the months leading up to race day. Cars are then entered into various categories for the chance of winning a coveted Greenpower trophy.
The overall winner of the Goblin class was St Joseph’s School in Launceston. Trewirgie School from Redruth took first in the slalom race followed by Blackwater School in Truro. College Road Primary School from Plymouth claimed the top spot in the drag race followed by St Joseph’s and Wadebridge. In the sprint race Bursley School from Newcastle under Lyme claimed first and second with St Ives Primary in third. Other awards went to Devoran School from Truro for Best Presented Team, Egloskerry in Launceston for Best Bodywork, St Budeaux Primary in Plymouth for Greenest Bodywork and Alverton Primary in Penzance claimed the Spirit of Greenpower award.
Ellie Sneesby, 10 from Constantine Primary in Falmouth, said: “I think we did really well. I took part in one race and came first but in a lot of them we came first or second. It was fun to build the car but it took a long time to build and do the designs. I really want to do this next year so I hope my secondary school takes part.”
Liam McNaughton, 11 from Goonhavern Primary in Truro, said: “I have never done anything like this before. We made the car out of spare bits and bobs that we found at school and at home.”
Year 4 teacher Mark Lloyd from Goonhavern Primary added: “The whole project is great to build their teamwork skills and get them used to engineering. We ran it as an after school club and didn’t manage to get everything together until the last minute but it’s all worked out.”
Devoran School headteacher Carol Breakwell said: “This is the first year we have competed in this competition and the children have loved every minute of it. We have brought the whole year 5 today, about 30 students, to race and to help cheer on their classmates as well. The whole class helped build the cars in after school club, we started in January and we rotated the class six children at a time.”
Secondary schools battled lashing rain on day two of the Greenpower event, Thursday 21st June, to race their Formula 24 cars. Fifteen teams from Cornwall and Devon’s secondary schools were pitted against each other in a four hour endurance race around a specially designed track on the airfield in cars built up from scratch with only an electric engine and batteries supplied.
Penair School from Truro won overall in the Formula 24 category with their car Raptor Fusion, one of three entered from the school. Second place was awarded to Plymouth High School for Girls’ Team Hummingbird and third was Penryn College’s Hot Ice.
The winners will go on to race at the national final, to be held at the famous Goodwood Motor Circuit, West Sussex later this year.
Penair School student Duncan Covey, from winning team car 263 Raptor Fusion, said: “I was really pleased that we won as we started off quite slow because of a technical problem but we pulled it back. I really enjoyed the driving but there were lots of crashes as it was so wet so we had to be careful. Getting into the pit lane was really tough. We’ll definitely be back next year, bring it on!”
Penair also claimed the Siemens Innovation Award for one of their three cars, Eco Raptor, whose shell was made entirely of wood. Other prizes went to Plymouth High School for Girls for the Best Engineered car, Hayle Community College claimed Best Presented Team, the Spirit of Greenpower award went to Camborne Science and and International Academy and Lipson Community College in Plymouth claimed Best Newcomer.
Charlie Frost, 14 from Penryn College, said: “It has been a tense race as it’s been so close between the top teams. We kept jumping from 3rd and 4th place throughout the day. We raced our car here last year and came seventh so modified it this year and put slick tyres on to make it go faster. The weather has affected us as we got water in one of our switches, but it was okay in the end and we finished in third.”
Harrison Moore, 14, from Richard Lander, said: “This is the third year we have been racing our car, which originally took months to build. Over the past year we have been modifying it and making it more aerodynamic and lighter so that it goes faster. For most of the race we were leading, but then we hit a cone which resulted in the base dropping on the car where the battery was, so we had to take the car off the track to get it fixed. We got it back on track but didn’t make the top three. Taking part in Greenpower has definitely made me more aware of how many different things can be recycled.”
Adam Marks, 13 from Hayle Community College, said: “It was very eventful and a really good atmosphere. There’s lots to do when you’re not in the pits and it’s really fun. When you spend time around mechanics you start to learn what things are and how they work and it makes engineering really interesting.”
Now in its fifth year in Cornwall, the Cornwall College South West Regional Heat is the UK’s largest and fastest growing event organised by college liaison officers Vaughan Curnow and Rachel Penhaligon.
Vaughan said: “In Greenpower I found a project that encourages the engineers of the future. We’ve gone from strength to strength in the last five years with more people taking part each year, so much so that we had to run the event over two days instead of one this year. Well done to everyone who took part and all those who volunteered their time, they’re the reason it’s such a success.”
After the event on Thursday Rachel said: “Today in particular really has shown the true spirit of Greenpower. Rain doesn’t often stop a Formula One race and we weren’t going to let it stop us! The competitors, organisers, volunteers and spectators were soaked through but everyone just pushed on through. It was amazing to see. Coming together as a team even though you’re in competition is what Greenpower is all about.”
All the racing teams were cheered on by their team mates and class mates, as well as the helpers, supporters and sponsors of each schools car.
Al Titterington, Newquay Cornwall Airport’s Managing Director said “This is the fourth year we have staged the event here at the Airport and again it has been an excellent two days. Battling against the wind and rain all the children seemed to have so much fun and energy, both supporting and actually racing the electric cars. Working with Cornwall College and Greenpower is something the airport enjoys doing and we hope this relationship will continue in the future. To see the kids having such an interest in engineering and technology is a really good thing as hopefully it will encourage new talent to enter the local industries in years to come.”
Emma Tyler from Greenpower said: “Cornwall’s event has become one of the most successful in the Greenpower calendar because of the partnership with Cornwall College and the support they give us. This event has seen more children than ever become involved and consider engineering as a career. It’s been an amazing couple of days and despite the weather we’ve still had loads of races and lots of fun.”
A Science Fair ran alongside the main events where children had the chance to take part in various experiments as well as speak to exhibitors from organisations including the NHS and R-ECO. Cornwall College St Austell’s band entertained the crowds in between races with music and songs much to the enjoyment of the competitors. There was also the chance to watch Devon and Cornwall Police’s drugs and explosives dogs in action, test out the driver’s seat in an Agusta Westland helicopter which flew in for the occasion and investigate Newquay Cornwall Airport’s on-site fire engine.
Principal of Cornwall College Dave Linnell commented: “Schools across the region look forward to the Greenpower South West Heat as much as all at Cornwall College do. It is one of the highlights of the academic year. Greenpower introduces engineering to school pupils in an innovative and exciting way and it is always great to see the results of their efforts and new found knowledge come together on race day.”
Schools not already involved who would like to take part in next year’s event or companies able to provide sponsorship or help schools build their cars can email email@example.com.