Southpark pupils enjoy the thrill of car racing

Vicky Wood, David Blackhall, Nicky Robertson and Heather Sim pictured with the primary 7 boys team, 'Mechanical Monsters' and girls team 'Lightening Ladies'.
Vicky Wood, David Blackhall, Nicky Robertson and Heather Sim pictured with the primary 7 boys team, 'Mechanical Monsters' and girls team 'Lightening Ladies'.

Pupils from Southpark primary school experienced the thrill of racing last weekend when they entered not one but two cars in this year’s Techfest Shell Greenpower Goblin Race held at Alford Transport Museum.

Working over a six-month period with lecturers from Banff and Buchan College and employees of Powerjacks, 24 primary 7 boys and girls split into two teams to construct Goblin Cars from scratch during an after school Young Engineers Club.

David Blackhall, Electrical Engineering Lecturer, told the Herald: “Last year our cars came in at a very respectable fourth and fifth place out of the 24 cars that were competing, so this year, the pupils had to come up with ideas on how the cars could be modified to improve on this.

“We had a boys and a girls team modifying the cars and racing and have been delighted that Vicky Wood who is in her final year of an apprenticeship with Powerjacks has been able to come along and help, encouraging girls to enter into engineering and also showing them that there are opportunities out there.

“Powerjacks have also very kindly donated a lot of the material required to modify the cars.”

Despite torrential rain during the event both teams did extremely well against Schools from across Scotland and were declared the best presented team of the day.

David continued: “To start with the day consisted of torrential rain, the whole day. Both teams remained up-beat though and the girls team ‘Lightning ladies’ were actually singing and dancing the whole day, so good on them.

“There were 29 teams competing this year, from various schools in Scotland.

“The morning consisted of a slalom event and a drag race, with each team competing six times in each event. Both teams did excellently, with the Lightning ladies getting third overall for these events, which is a great achievement.

“The afternoon session consisted of a sprint race, three laps of Alford race track, with what was supposed to be four cars on track at any one time.

“The lightning ladies were in race one, with four other cars side by side which was a tight squeeze, to say the least.

“As expected this ended up with three cars crashing out, the lightning ladies car was hit from behind spinning it out of contention. The marshalls deemed not to stop the race for whatever reason, ending our qualification hopes.

“The boys ‘mechanical monsters’ car was in race two, which saw them just pipped at the post, putting them in third place.

“Both teams have worked very hard for six months to build and prepare the cars for racing and it is great to see so many budding young engineers getting involved.

“It was a great result from all involved, with the lightning ladies getting 3rd overall for the morning session and South Park primary school achieving best presented team of the day.

“A special thank you must go to the lightning ladies and their crew chief, Aimee Blackhall, for their continued efforts throughout the day to keep everyone amused with their singing and dancing.”

The Goblin kit car project offers primary school pupils the opportunity to get involved in a simple, practical engineering project which embraces pupils in many relevant aspects of the curriculum including science and technology in a fun and exciting manner, with the pupils not only building a functional car but also participating in race day.

The cars are 24 volt electric cars which provide the pupils with an excellent grounding in basic engineering skills, are safe and durable cars when finished.

The kits comprise of all the material necessary to build the car from scratch to the point of a fully drivable rolling chassis.

The chassis is made from lightweight aluminium tube but the body work design and manufacture is left entirely to the creativity of the pupils involved.

David and Vicky were assisted with the Young Engineers Club by Heather Sim, energy lecturer at Banff and Buchan College and Nicky Robertson, Powerjacks production manager.