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Bloodhound visit ignites students’ interest in STEM

Institution News Team

The girls were able to explore the full-scale model of Bloodhound SSC
The girls were able to explore the full-scale model of Bloodhound SSC

On Thursday 10 November the Institution took the Bloodhound SuperSonic Car to visit the Folkestone School for Girls.

The full-scale model of the Bloodhound SSC car was on display to help raise awareness among schoolchildren about the Bloodhound SSC project and its aims to inspire a generation about science and engineering.

The visit gave Year 7 pupils the opportunity to explore the different components of the car with a tour and explore of the 13 metre show car and the chance to build and race model rocket cars with the new micro:bit rocket car challenge.

The day started off with two assemblies for Years 7 and 8 and Years 9 and 10 looking at the history of land speed record cars and an overview of the Bloodhound story. Videos of previous land speed record events were shown along with behind the scenes footage of the build of Bloodhound SSC, including key components such as the jet engine, hybrid rocket and 3D printing technology.

Caroline Stubbings, Senior Vice Principal at Folkestone School for Girls, said: “We were enormously excited to host the Bloodhound Project at our school and are delighted that our students had the opportunity to explore ‘the car’ as well as participate in a range of stimulating workshops which have opened their eyes to careers in engineering and also support their current science and technology curriculum.

“The girls really enjoyed the activities and you could see their curiosity and interest increasing throughout the day as they became more comfortable with the activities and the presenters. I think that they will have gained a great deal from the day and it will certainly have made a great impression on them. They had a lot of fun and learnt a lot without realising it, which is always great to see. We are looking forward to keeping our interest in the project going and hopefully watching the attempts to break the land speed record ‘live’ on  a screen in the hall next year and again in 2018.”

The girls were able to experience simulations of what it's like to drive Bloodhound SSC

The Year 7 students were split into two groups which alternated after their lunch break. One activity included the science show; a workshop that explores the science and technology that goes into Bloodhound SSC including aerodynamics, power and forces. Students had the opportunity to get ‘hands-on’ with the demonstrations such as reaction timers to see how they compare to Andy Green and the reaction speeds he will need as the Bloodhound SSC driver.

The other half of Year 7 were tasked with discussing what to consider when designing and building a model rocket car powered by an Estes rocket. In teams of two they designed and manufactured their rocket car from a foam block rocket car kit, attached wheels and stylized their very own Bloodhound-inspired cars. The girls then prepared their cars to race on an outdoor track, with timing gates in place to record the speed at which the cars would travel against one another. All times were recorded using micro:bit technology and further analysis of the data gathered can now be undertaken as a follow-on activity with teachers at a later date.

Students with their personalised rocket car

Peter Finegold, the Institution's Head of Education and Skills, said: “We need to encourage more young people, and particularly girls, to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Women currently make up just 6% of the engineering workforce and, given the engineering skills shortage, we cannot afford to miss out on the talent and ingenuity found in 51% of the population. 

“Showcasing the Bloodhound project at Folkestone School for Girls helps give students a taste of some of the exciting possibilities of engineering careers and hopefully inspire the problem-solving engineers of tomorrow.”

The Institution is one of the key sponsors of Bloodhound SSC, which aims to break the world land speed record of 763 mph in 2017 before its 1,000 mph attempt in South Africa in 2018.


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