Visit helps pupils with mini F1 cars

Valley Gardens Middle School pupils and staff pictured with academics from Northumbria's department of mechanical and construction engineering.
Valley Gardens Middle School pupils and staff pictured with academics from Northumbria's department of mechanical and construction engineering.

Pupils from a school in Whitley Bay visited Northumbria University to quiz aerodynamic experts ahead of an engineering competition.

The group of youngsters at Valley Gardens Middle School took part in the North East regional final of this year’s F1 in Schools miniature car challenge earlier this week.

As part of the design process, the pupils were invited to Northumbria to meet senior lecturer in aerodynamics Dr Nick Martin, who worked for the Williams Formula One team before joining the university.

They also spoke with academics from the university’s department of mechanical and construction engineering and were given the opportunity to make use of its state-of-the-art wind tunnel facility, using the equipment to test how aerodynamic their cars were so they could make changes to improve their designs.

David Fairlamb, head of computing at Valley Gardens Middle School, said: “A large part of the competition focuses on the engineering of the cars and how the students follow an iterative design process.

“They have been using the design software Autodesk, CNC machinery and 3D printers to design, test and make their cars, and visiting Northumbria University to use the wind tunnel really gave them some real-life context, helping them to understand more about aerodynamics.

“Meeting someone like Nick, who has actually worked in Formula One, was really inspiring for them and is a great demonstration of how STEM subjects can lead to really exciting careers.”