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Students race their dragster
Students race their dragster
Ben Drew, Research Officer, with a Swindon school student
Ben Drew, Research Officer, with a Swindon school student

Internal News - 03 April 2007

Dragster fun for school students

Students from schools in Bath, Bradford-on-Avon and Swindon had the chance to put science skills into practice in an inter-schools dragster competition organised by the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Teams of 15-year-olds built their own spring propelled dragster from a kit of basic parts supplied by the University and raced against the clock over a 10 metre course.

St Laurence School in Bradford took first place, with their team winning the best of three races and completing the course in a good time of approximately 2.7 seconds.

Schools built the dragsters as part of their science curriculum, or as an after-school activity, practically studying topics such as friction, mass and acceleration.

The Department gave students design pointers and their starter kit of an axle assembly, a standard extension spring and a fishing line. Suggestions for materials to construct the dragster body and wheels included lego, CDs, Coke cans bases, jam jar lids and balloons.

Dr Jos Darling, a senior lecturer in Mechanical Engineering and event organiser, said: “The competition is designed to give school students a chance to take on a manageable design project and get some practical engineering experience. It shows them that they can do interesting things in the field of engineering.

“Getting school students onto the campus makes university a less frightening environment for them and it builds a relationship with us.”

The dragster event is an annual competition that has run for more than ten years.