It is always rewarding to see a project through to its completion. This project however is continually surprising us with the directions it takes our students. Last year we were blown away by our Year 8 team when they took out the UNSW Sunsprint Challenge. Traditionally it had been older students who succeeded based on the level of skill and understanding needed.
Changes in the ability to source components have meant that younger students are now able to compete with the older students. Design and a little bit of good fortune now play a bigger role in deciding the winner. With that in mind our champion team have decided to push the boundaries a little.
Most cars at the 2013 National Championships in Melbourne were made from balsa. Indeed the winning car was identical to our car and it was only a little bit of bad luck that cost us a higher placing. This year the boys have decided that carbon fibre is the material of choice!
It is amazing that only two years ago this group of boys were struggling to build a car from plywood and now they have designed their car using CAD software, printed parts on a 3D printer, made rubber moulds for the carbon fibre and built what looks like an amazing piece of technology.
The most common response I get from the boys is, ‘I have learnt so much’. Cannot say I hear that around our classrooms very often. I wish I did!
All this started from a small project embedded inside an initiative using a project-based approach to learning. This year we have three teams competing and hopefully developing a love of learning. It has been a wonderful journey for all involved.