At Pensmith STEM International, our students learn through a project-based learning approach – we call these “STEM projects”. Although they are called “STEM projects” they are not limited to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. The projects incorporate other subject areas and skills such as Art, Music, Geography, ICT, and History. Throughout our learning students are focussed on developing 21st Century skills – we separate these into skills for learning and skills for life. Skills for Learning include Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, and Communication. Skills for Life involves curiosity and imagination, adaptability and persistence, global citizenship and leadership.
We were therefore very excited to hear about the F1 in Schools Challenge and Competitions have arrived in Thailand.
This is designed as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, English and Maths) challenge. Students have the task of creating a Formula 1 team. This involves forming a team of 3 – 6 students, create a business plan, marketing and sponsorship, design, manufacture and race a model F1 car.
The format and approach to STEM learning match really well with the goals for students at Pensmith STEM International which contributed to our decision to integrate this into our curriculum.
Let’s take a look at what this looked like in our first week
Mission: In teams of 3-4, students will research, design, manufacture, test, promote and race the fastest car possible.
Day 1: Planning phase
Today started with lots of communication, collaboration, and leadership skills. Subject areas involved in step 1: English and Global Citizenship, Physical Education (team building).
Students had to form a team of 4 people and then decide on which role they would take on for the challenge: A team manager, manufacturing engineer, design engineer, graphic engineer.
Following these negotiations, the teams decided on a team name, assign roles within their team, design a team logo, then gave a short presentation introducing their team.
Step 2: Design and Manufacture
Our teams’ design and manufacture their model F1 cars, at this level, they are made with card, and are completed with an axle, wheels, a car body and a driver. The students got to learn how to use the paper plotter to cut/manufacture their car designs. Logos and sponsorship were selected for their cars.
A big day for innovation, creativity and problem-solving. Subject areas involved in step 2: Art and Design (logo), Technology (learning paper plotter), Maths (measurement and shape) and Engineering (car construction).
Step 3: Testing
Our teams test their cars in the wind tunnel, learning about how aerodynamics affect the speed of the cars. Teams had the opportunity to test their reaction times and their cars – making necessary modifications to be ready for race day. The team managers leadership skills are put to the test in deciding which team member will represent the team to race their car and a decision on which was the fastest car to use in the F1 in Schools Challenge final race.
This step was about communication, collaboration, and critical thinking, with lots of opportunities for leadership and problem-solving. Subject areas English, Science (aerodynamics), Technology (learning how to use the wind tunnel), Engineering (Problem-solving solutions to their car designs), Maths (measuring drag, and reaction times), Physical Education (reaction times).
Step 4: Promotion and Oral Presentation Practice
The pit display shows off the team logo, their sponsors, the roles of the team members and explains the process they followed in the design and manufacture of their cars. Finally teams and get to practice their 2 minute verbal presentations to introduce their team and explain their team values.
Communication and collaboration were essential today, as teams put their creativity to the test on developing a pit displays. Subject area focus at this step: English (verbal presentation and pit displays) art and design (logo and pit display), citizenship (team values).
Step 5: Race Day
Race day brings together everything the students have learnt and experienced over the week as F1 in School Challenge Race Day arrived. Teams were nervous as they added the final touches to their pit displays and cars.
As in the national championships for the F1 in Schools Challenge, students present their teams, their pit display, their cars are checked that they meet all the regulations.
Then time to race.
For our first F1 in Schools Challenge, prizes were awarded for best car design, pit display, and the fastest car. The overall winner was the team with the best overall score.