On Wednesday 8th March 2017, nine Year 9 students went to Harlow College for an exciting Engineering Workshop with Bloodhound SSC, organised by STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
Bloodhound SSC is a British owned and manufactured supersonic car which is attempting to break the World Land Speed Record – they are aiming to reach 1050 mph which means they could break the barrier of sound! The Bloodhound education project, created with STEM, hopes to inspire future generations to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – they host several workshops like the one we attended in Harlow.
When we arrived at the new HAMEC centre – or Harlow’s Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Centre – we were surprised to see the Bloodhound SSC straight away! At first we thought it looked like a small plane or submarine but realised it was the soon-to-be record-breaking car! Shortly after, we were given an interesting and informative introduction to the car and the company by Mike Ford, Bloodhound’s STEM Communicator. What stuck out the most for us was the enthusiasm and encouragement, especially for girls, to aspire to have careers in STEM. Following this assembly, we were sorted into groups and began our activities.
Our first activity was a tour of the Bloodhound SSC itself, led by Mike Ford. We learnt about the science and engineering behind the car: for example, it is powered by a jet engine – the same type used in Eurofighter Typhoon planes – and also that it is made of layered carbon fibre and 3D-printed titanium. A memorable moment of the talk was when Mr. Ford sprayed rocket fuel into a combustion tube and proceeded to light it. What happened a second later made us jump – the lid was now on the other side of the room!
Next, we met Jas Thandi, who is part of the event team, for a design challenge. Our task was to make a plan for the base camp of Bloodhound SSC and its team; it had to include accommodation, security, some way to monitor the weather, how to get water and food supplies, a recreational activity, workshops/garages and storage. After being told that we had to complete this within half an hour, all the Presdales teams set off to a roaring start. There were ideas all around and the teamwork was at its best – everyone was enjoying this challenge! Finally, half an hour had passed, and it was time to present our designs to Jas and the other students. All three Presdales teams had excellent, innovative plans and were very creative – we included a shuttle bus and even helipads to our designs! One Presdales team – consisting of Millie-Anne, Saidhriti and Ayesha – won the challenge.
Our final activity took place after a long lunch break – a Knex challenge led by Chris Rockard, whereby teams had to make cars that would be powered by an air pressure cylinder which they had to be able to support as well as allow the car model to roll. Some teams found it difficult, but others had already made half of their cars! Fortunately, one Presdales team’s car had run successfully and for quite a long distance, gaining a place on the top 3! Two Presdales students were also featured in an interview which was displayed on a TV at the HAMEC open event later on that day.
In our opinion, we enjoyed this event because it was extremely informative and inspiring. We were very happy to see the amount of encouragement given to students to go into STEM careers – particularly girls. On behalf of the nine Presdales students who were given the opportunity to attend this event, we would like to say a big thank you to the Presdales Science Department, Harlow College and the Bloodhound SSC staff for organising an educational and beneficial day.
Saidhriti Siddantham and Ayesha Unadkat, Year 9