A RACE to find the engineers of the future was launched at Thatcham’s Kennet School this week.
The national Bloodhound Project sets pupils aged from 11 to 16 to work together to make a rocket-powered foam car and pit it against rival teams.
Pupils have to test their programming skills with a BBC micro:bit device to capture and analyse real-time data to tweak their design and improve performance.
Teams from Kennet School researched, designed and tested their cars on Monday.
Hitting a top speed of 64.7mph and outpacing the Army and Microsoft were team Dobby Doodles – Year 7 pupils Mackenzie Myers and Finlay Pollington and Year 12 pupils Natan Goren and Matthew O’Callaghan.
Mackenzie said the team was not expecting to win, but it felt ‘awesome’ that they had.
He said: “We were thinking of making our car different to every other car and thought about what every other person would do and pushed over the boundaries. We cut off some areas of our car to make it lighter.”
Head of IT at Kennet School, Mel Poyda, said the launch had been amazing and the pupils had enjoyed the experience.
“It’s been about problem-solving, engaging and being creative.
“These kids are the future of these businesses and if we don’t push them down that path now what are they going to have in the future?
“They are investing in their own future.”
With the 1,000mph landspeed record attempt by Bloodhound SSC as its inspiration, Microsoft and the Army are using the project to encourage pupils to take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Senior audience marketing manager for students at Microsoft, Andrew Webber, said: “Kennet is a large secondary school and they have a teacher who is passionate about coding and computing, so it was the perfect choice for us.”
He said the company wanted to play a part in equipping the next generation with the digital skills they need for the future, which will be shaped by computing.
Jules Tipler from Bloodhound said the project was designed to encourage pupils into STEM subjects.
“The Army and Microsoft need engineers and they hope that children will be bitten by the bug by doing projects like this,” he said.
The fastest cars will compete at the Santa Pod raceway in Bedfordshire on June 30, where the top three fastest teams will win a cash prize for their school.
The overall winners will travel to Newquay to watch a rocket launch.
Headteacher at Kennet, Paul Dick, said it had been a huge pleasure to host the event and he hoped his pupils had shown what they were capable of.