We applied to the Rolls Royce Science Prize to encourage young people to take a greater interest in STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering a Maths. The competition attracted 2000 entries and we are one of the 9 selected finalist schools, having already won £6000 in prize money. 1st Prize is £10,000 which will be awarded in November 2015. We attended this years’ prize ceremony with keynote speeches from Richard Noble ( from Thrust and Bloodhound super Sonic Car fame) and a special sustainability prize awarded by Sir Tim Smit , founder of the Eden project.
Our project is attempting to design and build a drone that could be used by mountain search and rescue teams to locate casualties on the mountainside. The project is entirely run by students with staff only supporting them where necessary. Students are 3D printing the drone using PLA which is a biodegradable corn starch plastic; the drone will be flown remotely from the ground by a ‘pilot’ who will wear specialised flight goggles that enable him/ her to see the flight of the drone from a first person perspective. We have sourced a military spec thermal imaging camera which will help to locate the casualties. We have until May 2015 to submit our final design.
The project is exciting as it provides the students with real life design and manufacturing experiences, working closely with local companies and industry to source parts and understand what is involved in a very challenging engineering industry. Currently only 14% of graduates are engineers in this heavily male dominated industry. We are setting out to break this mould with our STEM curriculum and projects like this. We are already lining up or next challenge of designing and building an electric race car that would be entered into the Greenpower Formula 24 Championships. On average, 24% of our school leavers going to university opted to study a design, science or engineering degree over the last 3 years which is fantastic for a girls school.
We are appealing for further help from local companies and industry to test out our drone. We desperately seek the use of a wind tunnel and also companies that have expertise in the use of finite analysis software that can help us look at the stress analysis of the components to ensure our design is strong and can be used in the hardest of British environments. We would also like to hear from anyone who can assist in showing our students plastics manufacturing locally.