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4x4 students ready for uphill challenge of engineering contest

PUBLISHED: 11:54 19 March 2015 | UPDATED: 11:59 19 March 2015

St Olave's Team 4vx4 school challenege

St Olave's Team 4vx4 school challenege

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St Olave's team Kanga to take on 4x4 remote control course

A team of future scientists and engineers from an Orpington school and their homemade 4x4 remote control vehicle are preparing to take part in the demanding Land Rover 4x4 in Schools competition. Chris Murphy finds out more...

A TEAM of engineering students at a Bromley school have battled their way to the national finals of a major competition.

Harriet Caisley, Sophie Parsons, Kai Smith and Bradley Sawyer, who make up team Kanga, are pupils at St Olave’s Grammar School, Orpington, and they are on their way to the Jaguar Land Rover Heritage Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

They had entered the Land Rover 4x4 in Schools competition and won the prizes for best beginners and best track performance in their regional competition.

Kanga will appear in the UK national finals on March 27 and have a chance of winning a £1,000 scholarship for Harper Adams College as well as other prizes.

Teams have had to build a remote control all-terrain vehicle about 30cm long.

Rose Hawley, the head of design technology at St Olave’s, said: “We could not be prouder of their achievement.

“They had to take a basic kit car and modify it so it was suitable for covering the track.

“They had to weld together an aluminium chassis and develop a casing from plastic.

“Some of the suspension parts needed to be milled. There is an awful lot of science and technology in this vehicle, which is why they had to find sponsors to help pay for the work and parts they needed, as well as the branding for the team.

“They put in an awful lot of work, and now they are deservedly in the finals.

She added: “I am particularly pleased to see girls on the team. It shows they do have an interest in engineering and science.”

The contest aims to encourage young people aged between 11 and 19 to take more interest in the practical application of design and technology, mathematics and science.

The world-famous car company says that in the world of commerce, “success in manufacturing and engineering requires creative, multi-disciplined individuals who are capable of problem-solving through individual endeavour as well as working as part of a motivated team.”

It said: “They will get all that by taking part in this project, with the challenge requiring students to combine their skills to resolve a complex problem, sharing intellectual and practical resources in the pursuit of an innovative solution.”

Land Rover added: “It is an excellent opportunity for students to work in teams and gain an awareness and understanding of key skills and project management.”

Each team’s vehicle had to complete a demanding series of challenges.

Judges assessed each performance, including the presentations, a written portfolio and putting the vehicle through its paces on an off-road course.

Team member Sophie Parsons, 17, said: “I aspire to become an engineer in the future, so I thought participating would be an excellent opportunity to improve my problem solving and engineering skills, in preparation for university and working life.

“I have really enjoyed working on our remote controlled car over the past five months. However, the best part by far was testing out the car on the complex test track at the Birmingham regional event. The track was harder than any of us could have imagined. Therefore we were really pleased to have defeated the challenge and come out with the best track performance award.

“On top of that, we were the overall winners in our category, so the day could not have gone any better.

“I am really looking forward to further improving our car and portfolio over the next few weeks in preparation for the finals.”

Teammate Harriet Caisley, also 17, added: “It was a wonderful experience competing in the regionals, which I’m sure will be complemented with the chance we have to go to the nationals, where we are up against more advanced teams.

“My favourite part of the whole experience was seeing the car develop from original plans on paper all the way through to the finished product.

“I especially enjoyed creating the design portfolio which documented the whole journey.”

And Bradley Sawyer, 17, said: “At first I was not quite sure what to expect from the day, as we had no idea how we’d stack up against our opponents. The whole day ended up being a lot more fun than we could have imagined, as we showed off our pit display and portfolio, and took part in the particularly enjoyable verbal presentation and track testing.

“At the end, I personally was quite shocked to have done so well, and it took a while to properly sink in.

“We saw the challenge advertised in an Arkwright Scholarship newsletter, and decided it looked like fun, so I made up a team and we entered, with some help from the school buying us a starter kit.

“Despite a painfully early start, I enjoyed the whole day and wouldn’t have missed out on any aspect of it.”

The Kanga team say they are now looking forward to the finals.

Les Ratcliffe, head of community relations for Jaguar Land Rover, said: “We need more young people to become the next generation of engineers and technologists to help us develop our new sustainable vehicles and technologies.”

And Land Rover project manager David Lakin added: “This was the first of six regional finals and the teams from London and the south east have certainly set the bar high. We have seen some very innovative design ideas and ingenious manufacturing solutions to the challenge.

“The engineering, design and manufacturing skills the students gain from competing go far beyond the national curriculum.”

Kanga is now preparing for the final on Friday, March 27 at the Jaguar Land Rover Heritage Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire.

We wish them luck!

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