A team of students from Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Horncastle, Lincolnshire won the 4x4 in Schools Technology Challenge National Finals supported by Land Rover and the IET that was held this week at the National Transport Museum in Coventry. The five members of Team Alpha, Freddie Payne, James Law, Frazer Dever, Daniel Young and Lauren Bird were crowned National 4x4 in Schools Champions with their remote control vehicle design. The 4x4 in Schools programme is aimed at young people aged 11–19 years old (key stages 3, 4 and 5) and involves teams with between four and six members. It sets out to raise awareness, interest and enthusiasm in STEM subjects through the practical application of design and technology, mathematics and science. The manufacturing industry, a backbone of the British economy and one of the key employment sectors, requires creative, multi-disciplined individuals who are capable of problem solving through individual endeavour and working in motivated teams. This project reflects these attributes, with the challenge requiring students to come together to resolve a complex problem, sharing intellectual and practical resources in the pursuit of an innovative solution. It is an excellent opportunity for students to work in design teams and gain an awareness and understanding of key skills and project management.
Team Manager of Team Alpha, Freddie Payne, said of winning this prestigious student competition, 'We are over the moon. We won our age category last year, but really didn’t expect to win the whole thing because there were so many good cars. We started working on our car last October, so it’s been nearly a year-long project. All our hard work as paid off though so it has all been worth it. I think one of the main features which helped us win was the four wheel steering. It was really difficult to design this and it took us nearly two months to crack it, but we got it to work and that was a great achievement. The whole project became a bit of an obsession for us; we put in loads of hours, not just in building the car but all the other elements too, with the verbal presentation and display that you have to do. Winning today has been brilliant and we have had a great time competing in this Challenge.'
The path to success has been hard-fought for Team Alpha, with the team battling against other local school teams at the Central Regional Finals, where they won overall and collected the Best Engineered Car award, before travelling to Coventry for the National Finals just a couple of weeks later. Steering a 4x4 car around a course of obstacles was just one of the nerve-wracking tests faced by the 4x4 National Finalists. With a verbal presentation to a team of judges, producing a well-designed graphic display of work and scrutineering of the model vehicle the teams had to excel in a number of disciplines and as Les Ratcliffe, Head of Community Relations for Jaguar Land Rover and Head of the judging panel, explains, the finalists produced some excellent work. 'The work put into the teams’ entries was fantastic,' said Ratcliffe. 'The 4x4 in Schools Technology Challenge is designed to emulate how engineers work in industry, with team work being very important, as well as communicating the processes undertaken in a project. The engineering element of the programme is at its core and the students demonstrated a depth of understanding which goes way beyond their years; these teams should be very proud of their achievements.'
David Lakin, National Project Manager, 4x4 in Schools, added, 'We’ve had great feedback from students and teachers who appreciate the opportunity to have a go at putting their school work into practice in a challenging way and one which is good fun. The students not only learn about engineering principles and the core education subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths, but they also improve their social skills and communication techniques, which are so valuable as they move into higher education, apprenticeships and the workplace.'
Second overall and winners of the 'Best Engineered Vehicle' award were Grip 2 from Castleford Academy. Team 3, a group of students from Richard Hale School in Hertford were third overall in this year’s Challenge and also won the 'Best Winch Test' award. Team Manic Mechanics from the Isle of Wight Learning Zone, Wootton Creek, was awarded 1st Place in the Class 2 category and presented with the award for 'Best Rookie Team'. Rock Runners from The King’s School, Worcester, won the 'Innovation and Creative Thinking' award and 'Best Track Performance' was won by Rock Climbers, a team from the JCB Academy, Rocester, Staffordshire. Team Alpha collected the 4x4 in Schools National Champion's trophy and was also presented with a £1000 university scholarship award to Harper Adams College, Shropshire for one of the team members.
This exciting engineering initiative tasked groups of students to design and build a remote controlled four-wheel drive vehicle which could negotiate challenging road surface obstacles and electronic tests. The teams were required to drive their bespoke design cars on a model off-road track emulating the concept of a Land Rover 4x4 vehicle. The track which is a specifically designed Land Rover test track, tested the vehicles on a variety of surfaces and obstacles. The teams also had to present their work and knowledge of 4x4 vehicle designs to a panel of judges and their cars were scrutinised against a comprehensive set of rules and regulations. Students undertook the challenge as part of after school activities and clubs.