Ballyclare Secondary School have been competing in the Greenpower Educational Trust F24 Kitcar competition for the past five years. On Saturday 18th May at Kirkistown Race Track they became the All Ireland Champions for the third year in a row. The team of pupils, made up of five boys and five girls, raced two cars (one a Kitcar and the other a self build) on the day and managed 1st and 2nd in both races against a competitive field of 11 other kitcars from as far away as Dublin University. The aim of the Greenpower competition is to “inspire young people around the world to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths through a unique challenge: to design, build and race an electric car”. Over 500 schools from around the world take part with the pinnacle event being the International Final, held this year at Silverstone Race Track in October.
To take part schools must design and build an electric powered kitcar, then drive it as far as possible in 90 minutes. To maintain a level playing field all schools must use the same batteries and motor. This year Ballyclare’s two cars drove incredible distances of 32.77 miles and 31.46 miles.
Teacher Mr D Beckington said “It is hard to explain how rewarding being involved in the F24 Kitcar project can be. There are so many valuable experiences our pupils have had in the past year. The majority of the current team study GCSE Technology and Design, Resistant Materials. Although Electronics is part of the core it is not the main focus of the course, rather students study Materials, Tools and Processes as well as an emphasis on good Design. The 2019 team, using their course knowledge set about trying to improve the existing 2018 car without having to dive too deep into the electronics. The team recognized that the 2018 chassis material, aluminium, was a good choice with its strength to weight ratio, but after carrying out material density calculations they soon realised that thin Plywood was actually lighter yet still gave the structural strength needed. By reading through all the rules carefully, the team managed to design and manufacture a lighter kitcar but they also improved the overall shape to be more aerodynamic than the previous car”.
The pupils in the team this year were: Reece Harvey, Zara Jones, Kieren Ferguson, Victoria Jebb, Mackenzie Williams, Abby Turbitt, Andrew Turner, Eva Campbell, Andrew Keys and Jasmine Shields. Eva Campbell said “it is one of the best things I’ve ever been involved in. To design something from scratch, build it and then actually drive it was so much fun. We really have grown close as a team over the last few months and we all worked well together on the day to become the All Ireland champions for the third successive time. I would highly recommend all schools to get involved”.
The school wish to thank their very supportive local sponsors Woodside Logistics Group, W.J. Scarlett & Son Builders Merchant DIY and Aalco Metals Ltd for their support over the past year.
Ballyclare Secondary School now go to the International Final in October along with Campbell College Belfast to represent the island of Ireland and hopefully bring home some more silverware.