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Applied Learning at Speed!

Applied Learning at Speed!
Mitch Bellamy, Maria Garvey and Chris Pimley with (right) European Champion Andy Carter.
Thursday 1st October 2009 by C. Freeman
The Year 10 Construction & Built Environment students visited the Santa Pod raceway, looking at the infrastructure and architecture of the site. The information gained will not only help them with their diploma work, but also assist the Art and DT departments in implementing a joint project for Year 7s next term.

In a cross-curricular project masterminded by Mrs Watts and Mr Browne, students will design dragsters powered by a small motor and basic electronics and also explore the graphics used in racing, studying and designing their own decals for the models.

Mr Browne approached Santa Pod, the home of European drag racing to get some expert advice and they invited some of our students along to see a typical race day. The diploma students were allocated tasks; some shot videos and photos while others looked at the artwork and graphics side. A third group studied the site, a former World War Two RAF base, to see how the landscape and usage had changed in the intervening years.

Mr Browne said: 'We did a lot of research so that by the time they got there they could look out for things as they went around. They found out about the structures, what's permanent and what's temporary. When the racing is finished the stands and some of the buildings are dismantled at the end of each season. When there's a big event on there can be 30,000 attending. We videoed the racing so the Year 7s will get a feel for what the event is like. We learned about the different styles of cars and had the opportunity to interview the four-times European champion, Andy Carter.'

He explained that Top-Fuel racing cars are the fastest category of drag racers and run on an fuel mix of 90 per cent nitromethane to ten per cent methanol, or racing alcohol. With their thin front tyres which optimise performance and their 28ft length, the fastest cars can reach the end of the quarter mile in less than four seconds. Accelerating from standing to 100 mph can take just 0.7 seconds, which is ten times as fast as a production Porsche 911 Turbo!

A Top Fuel dragster can exceed 280 mph (450km/h) in just 660ft (0.2km). As well as the intense G-Forces the driver must also contend with the massive noise with Top Fuel cars emitting 120 decibels which is louder than a Boeing 747 taking off. The cars are stripped down after every race. The engine costs £55,000 and the tyres are only used for two runs before they are worn out. The budget for the team is £8,000 per 4 second run!

Mr Browne said: 'Santa Pod really looked after us and despite only being there for three hours, we managed to get a lot of work done. The students really enjoyed the experience and got a chance to develop the Personal Learning and Thinking Skills by not only working as a team, but also creatively and independently. Hopefully, we can develop these new applied learning opportunities further, so other Brooke Weston students can benefit from our experience in the near future.'

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