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Author: Nicollette Baldwin
Case Study: Clarence House Preparatory School
After a year without Goblin racing in 2020, it has been a delight to see our youngest Greenpower competitors back on track this season. Despite the challenges of the past 18 months, we have also welcomed a number of new teams to the Greenpower family. One of these more recent additions is Clarence House Preparatory School, an all-girls school near Twickenham on the outskirts of West London.
An incredibly new organisation, Clarence House is considered a STEM specialist school, providing all students from Year 3 to 6 with an hour of either science, engineering or computing each day. When the school first became aware of the Greenpower challenge, it felt that it would be the perfect final project for their Year 6 leavers.
The team, consisting of eight 10 to 11-year-old’s, received its Goblin kit car in April 2021. With ambitions of competing at the Goodwood Gathering of Goblins, the team was tasked with building the electric vehicle in the space of just eight weeks. The students immediately threw themselves into the challenge, which formed part of the STEM portion of their curriculum as well as extra time outside of the classroom. They first tackled the mechanical aspects at the front end of the car, including the axles, bearings and steering arms, before turning their attention to the back end of the vehicle and assembling the rear-wheel drive mechanism.
During the most important section of the build - installing the electric motor - the team called in some reinforcements. Through STEM Learning’s STEM Ambassadors Programme, the school was able to bring in a graduate mechanical engineer from Alstom for three full days, who not only helped the students with the trickier aspects of the build but inspired them with his own personal STEM career journey.
With the mechanical features of the car completed and working smoothly, the team finished the job by constructing the vehicle’s body-work, compromised of corrugated plastic and decorated with fake (yet sparkly) diamonds.
After a few sessions of driving practice, the students had completed the mammoth task of building a fully functional electric car in just eight weeks and were ready to compete at the iconic Goodwood Motor Circuit for the very first time.
Clarence House was one of 40 teams battling it out in drag and slalom challenges on the Goodwood front straight. A member of the team also got the chance to drive a full lap of the track as part of the ‘Lap of Champions’. Throughout the event the girls showed a tremendous amount of passion for their project, working well as a team and, most importantly, having fun. The team left the circuit with smiles on their faces and a host of unforgettable memories.
“The Greenpower race day at Goodwood was my favourite experience at school,” said one of the team members. “It was so much fun to design and build the car. When we raced, I was really surprised by how fast the car went! Before the event I thought I would crash but it wasn't scary at all. I really enjoyed doing the whole project."
The teachers at Clarence House Preparatory School have observed the massive positive impact the project has had on the participating students.
“The Greenpower project has given the students an amazing project out of the classroom that has allowed them to learn in a really hands-on way,” said Amy Box, STEM Lead Teacher at the school. “It was a pleasure to see a different side to so many of the girls, watching them thrive in the new, practice-based learning scenario. Even those who normally aren’t the most academic showed brilliant aptitude and problem-solving skills throughout the building process. Outside of the educational benefits, Greenpower has also helped develop the students’ social skills, such as confidence and teamwork, and has really brought the year group together at the end of a difficult time. Most importantly, the whole team thoroughly enjoyed the project and some have already told me that they will be asking their new secondary school teachers to get involved in Greenpower.”
If you think your Greenpower team has a story to tell, get in touch with us at email@example.com.