School Solar Speed Challenge at Tavistock College

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By VAllen2012 | Thursday, November 22, 2012, 10:30

Over the course of two days last week, TALC (the Tavistock Area Learning Community) invited fifty children from local primary schools to take part in a day of challenge, enterprise and creative team work at Tavistock College. The excited Year 5 and 6 pupils were mixed up and placed into groups from a range of different schools. Each team had a project manager, who had been selected from the college's most talented year 8 Product Designers. During the morning the teams of five created their own Solar Powered Vehicle, selecting the most appropriate from a wide range of resources available to them. Each pupil had a specific role as a Design Engineer, Solar Engineer, Graphic Designer or Manufacturer. This gave the pupils a real focus and a feeling of shared responsibility over their project. Teachers from the Technology Faculty who hosted the event were overwhelmed by the highly effective team work and the overall enthusiasm of the pupils. Head of Faculty, Pete Keegan, commented "It was great to see the children working so well in groups that they had only just met; the complicated nature of this project was a perfect challenge to these highly motivated individuals. It really was a lot of fun." After three hours of design and careful construction, the teams all had a fully functioning solar powered vehicle and were race ready. The climax of the event was yet to come.

In the College Hall, the teams arranged their design materials, additional research and of course their vehicles on tables and prepared themselves for the arrival of the general public, parents and the anonymous 'Dragons', all of whom would be judging their efforts. The teams had to try their hardest to impress the visitors, as votes were cast to identify the winning team. Amongst the visitors were the 'Dragons'. These local VIPs included local GP, Peter Rodgers, IT and Business Consultant, Alan Jones, Director of independent travel company, VentureCo Worldwide, Mark Davison, Independent Hydrological Consultant, Alex Inman, academic, Jon Copeland, the College's Chair of Governors, Alison Malcolm and the Principal, Helen Salmon. The Dragons' votes was worth ten times that of a regular vote. This meant that the teams worked hard to impress everyone, just in case they were one of the mystery Dragons. The teams were then put through their paces racing their solar vehicles and when voting closed it was impossible to say which team the winner might be. When the Dragons were finally revealed, after much speculation from the teams, there was a real buzz of excitement in the air. The winning team on Wednesday was: Nathan Sellars of Tavistock College, Logan Coombes of St.Peter's, Darcy Brown of St.Andrew's, Courtney Lumley of Horrabridge Primary and Georgia Stolliday from Lamerton Primary. Friday's winners were led by Darcey Hepworth of Tavistock College and included Julianna Oligan from Bickleigh Down, Oliver Venning from Tavistock Primary, Lauren Harvey from Whitchurch, James White from Lifton and Jamie Algar from Mary Tavy & Brentor.

The pupils left feeling really proud of their achievements. Darcy Brown from St Andrews in Buckland Monachorum commented: "I really enjoyed today because we got to use our DT skills and have a lot of fun. I thought that the end product wouldn't actually turn out as well as it did, but it actually looked really amazing." Pupils had made new friends, learnt how to work as a crucial team member and had really developed their technical, creative and engineering skills. Many thanks go to TALC and Kui Holmes, who chairs provision for gifted and talented students in our area, for sponsoring and making this event happen.

Pete Keegan (Head of Technology and ICT)



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