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Author: The Greenpower Team
Despite the disruption to the education sector over the past two years, we have been lucky enough to welcome a number of new competitors to the Greenpower family over that period of time. One of our new teams is from Norwich High School for Girls in Norfolk, which took part in the challenge for the very first time in 2021.
The school’s Headteacher became aware of Greenpower late in 2020 after being told about the project by a member of the team at Lotus. After a further discussion with members of staff at nearby school Town Close – which has been involved in Greenpower for a number of years now – Norwich High School for Girls decided to take the leap and buy their first kit car.
To help purchase the car, the school applied for the JP Blanch Fund which offers a 50% kit car grant, one of the many regional and national grants Greenpower offers to both new and existing teams. The school was successful in its application and received the kit car in March 2021.
With the aim for the team to compete at the Lotus Hethel Heat in early July, the team would need to complete the build in under four months. Headed by a sixth form student, eight girls from Year 10 took on the challenge, all excited to get hands-on and build a fully functional electric vehicle.
“We run the club after school on a Thursday and during Friday lunchtime, so the girls dedicate a lot of time to the project,” said Gary Hyland, Head of Science at Norwich High School for Girls. “But after the lockdown periods, it has been great to see the girls all come together and work hard on building the car. Even when they’re working on different aspects of the vehicle – some girls may be sorting out the battery, while others are working on the aero at the front – everybody is still working collaboratively to get the best out of the project.”
The hard work and dedication of the team paid off as they managed to get their car ready for its first outing at the Lotus Hethel Heat. After a slightly rocky start on race day due to steering issues, the team quickly made the required adjustments and performed well throughout the remainder of the event. Their reward was the Best Newcomer award and a spot at the Greenpower International Finals at the iconic Goodwood Motor Circuit.
Ahead of the finals, the team continued to work on the car, making as many mechanical improvements as possible. The students also created their own version of a racing simulator, as they used a racing game on a PlayStation 5 to learn the layout of the Goodwood track.
The team thoroughly enjoyed the experience of participating at the biggest Greenpower event of the year, as they went head to head with other 60 other teams from schools and educational organisations from all across the UK. Despite the spectacle of the day, the unity of the group still shone through.
“I really love the fact that everything is about the team, there’s no real individual aspect,” said one of the team members. “When you’re driving it might seem like it’s just you, but even then there’s still a team focus. Plus, getting to drive on a track as impressive as Goodwood feels really special.”
As a teacher running a STEM project in an all-girls school, Mr. Hyland believes Greenpower is a brilliant way to expose more young women to the practicalities of a job in engineering: “It’s so important that the girls have opportunity to see what’s out there in terms of STEM careers and show them that engineering is a viable option. What’s great about Greenpower is that it’s real. In physics we do a lot of experiments, but they’re all very artificial, testing one thing against another in ideal conditions. However with the Greenpower project, the students have to build everything, and it all needs to work properly and safely.”
In addition to the benefits that Greenpower gives the students actually participating in the project, it has also helped advertise the STEM and DT departments of the school. Having the car displayed proudly on open days has helped create a lot of interest from prospective students and parents, as well as get the younger students at the school excited about getting involved in Greenpower.
Moving forward, Norwich High School for Girls is hoping to get a second car that would allow a greater number of students – particularly further down in the school – to get involved in the Greenpower project.