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F24 Case Study: Cliff Park Ormiston Academy

21 October 2021

Author: The Greenpower Team

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One of the many cars competing at this year’s Greenpower International Final was The Cliff Park Comet, an F24 entry run by the team from Cliff Park Ormiston Academy in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

In 2018, the school’s subject leader for Hard Tech and Engineering – Nick Herridge – attended the Greenpower International Final at Rockingham Motor Speedway to check out what Greenpower was all about. Having loved what he saw, he went about setting up a team at Cliff Park.

Later that year, the school purchased an F24 kit car, thanks largely to funding from the Norfolk Community Foundation’s Dudgeon Funding, one of the many regional grants on offer to both aspiring and existing Greenpower teams.

“Without the grant, we would not have got the project off the ground,” said Mr. Herridge. “Alongside our own fundraising, it helped us buy our kit car and set up the team.”

With the 2019 season on the horizon, the team got started on the build. Made up of students between the ages of 12 and 16, the team from Cliff Park Ormiston Academy dedicated time after school to turn hundreds of individual components into a fully functional electric car. Throughout the process, those involved learned a number of valuable skills, including teamwork and problem solving, and engaged in STEM in a new and exciting manner.

Having completed the car, the team took part in the Norfolk Lotus and Bedford Autodrome heats, winning Best Newcomers at both events. The Cliff Park Comet’s successful first season was topped off by an invite to the 2019 Greenpower International Final at Silverstone, where the team competed on the same circuit as the greats of world motorsport.

After the 2020 season was washed out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team was raring to go racing again in 2021. Having made major upgrades to the car since its last outing, The Cliff Park Comet returned to the track and performed well at this year’s Lotus Hethel Heat, and once again qualified for the Greenpower International Final.

While the on-track success is great to see, it is the benefits of the entire Greenpower experience that is most important to the Cliff Park team.

“The benefits of Greenpower for the students are endless,” said Mr. Herridge. “Of course it helps them improve on their teamwork and problem-solving skills, but what I really like about it is that it really widens their perspective. Throughout the process, they get to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to do. They always come back from the race events full of confidence and excitement. From building the car to racing the car, every student involved gets an awful lot out of the project.”

To ensure the Cliff Park students get the most out of the race days, the staff gives them the power to run the team themselves. From making sure the car is ready for scrutineering, to getting it onto the grid on time, the responsibility is on the shoulders of the team members. This approach helps the team take ownership of its project and act in a professional manner.

Since the addition of the Greenpower challenge to Cliff Park Ormiston Academy, the staff have seen an uptake in the students’ interest in STEM subjects. As someone who has been involved in engineering his entire life, Mr. Herridge believes it’s vital to show young people the potential of careers in the industry: “Engineering is where the future is in terms of there being a lot of different and exciting careers to pursue. I think the earlier you can get a student into engineering and show them where STEM qualifications can take them, the better it is for them. Plus, giving them the opportunity to learn in a hands-on, practical way can really help create that passion for engineering.”

Alongside the skills the students have gained from getting involved in the project, the school itself has also enjoyed plenty of benefits from running a Greenpower program. As a result of its involvement in the challenge, the school has been featured on both local TV and radio. Furthermore, the F24 car has been a major attraction on open days, and is often commented on by attendees.

“A few years on from starting Greenpower at Cliff Park, the school has seen the good publicity and results the project has delivered, so are now investing more money into the team,” said Mr. Herridge. “With these extra funds, we are embarking on building our first ever scratch car for the 2022 season.”

In just three years, Cliff Park Ormiston Academy has established a thriving Greenpower team, and offers a brilliant example of how the Greenpower grants can be used to help build something truly special.