Five MLC students in Year 8 and 9 are travelling to Tasmania this week to compete at the National F1 in Schools Competition, having placed first in the Victorian competition in October 2017.
F1 in Schools is the world's largest STEM competition, involving over nine million students from 31 nations. In teams of five, students use industry-standard software and equipment to design, manufacture, test and race miniature F1 cars capable of racing at 80 km/h.
The teams also have to project manage, budget, do their own marketing campaigns, website and social media, find sponsors and complete portfolios. For Team Xeno Motion, who is now competing in Tasmania, work began over the summer holidays on redesigning and remanufacturing their racing car in time for the National competition.
"The team has dedicated part of their summer break, a few weekends and every Wednesday after school since the start of Term 1," says Kevin Lugg, Art and Design teacher at MLC who was one of the instigators of the program at the College.
"We've had to redesign the car, but this time we have more in depth aerodynamic influences and research," says Katrine Shi, Year 9 and the team's Design Engineer.
"The judges gave us feedback [from the Victorian competition], and so we took that on and changed the car for better performance," says Annabel Sutherland, Year 9 and the Manufacturing Engineer.
Ingrid Winata, Year 9 and the Team Manager/Graphics Designer, agrees that they approached their process differently from last year. "We were more organised, and we had better plans for financial budgeting and the manufacturing of the car."
Kevin also mentions that judging criteria are more specific for the National competition. "Students are required to produce a more detailed folio of work covering the design process and engineering principles," he says. "They also have to use feedback from judges at State finals to re-design the car, marketing and graphic elements."
The other team members are Mischa Gilligan, Co-Marketing Manager, and Stephanie Liang, Co-Marketing Manager, both in Year 8.
2017 was MLC's first year of participation and fielded three teams, placing 1st, 3rd and 4th - and were the only girls-only teams to compete! As a result, some of the team even changed their Marshmead terms in order to compete in Tasmania.
The F1 in Schools experience has provided students with opportunity to learn through hands-on practical problem solving, whilst being able to learn to use a range of tools, equipment and design software. Furthermore, the need to pitch to sponsors and participate in public speaking has seen their self-confidence grow.
"We didn't expect to win," Ingrid said of last year's Victorian competition. "Even after, we couldn't believe it. But it's exciting to be going to Tasmania as some of us haven't been there before, and has allows us to look back and see how far we've come since the start."
2018 is looking bright for MLC in F1 in Schools; there is a new track to use in their testing and development of their cars, and 2017 teams will act as mentors.
Best of luck to Xeno Motion as they compete at Nationals!