Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Racing again.... S4S




Sunday arrived and Gaynor had another race. Not a ‘race for life’ this time but Scalextric4Schools (S4S).

Tim manages the schools program for PTC a US software company. Each year he sets up the S4S competition, the finals of which were held at RAF Cosford, near Wolverhampton. Pupils use Creo/ProEngineer software to design, build and race their cars and prepare a presentation of their design and developments which they present to a team of five judges. The same software is used to design at Ferrari and Audi. Tim has his mid life crisis Audi  but is still waiting for the Ferrari...




A terrific amount of planning goes into the event which is sponsored by Hornby and a number of other companies. Tim is also fortunate to know some retired teachers (from his previus life as an OFSTED inspector) who are who are happy to lend a hand. Many of you involved in education will be wondering whether it is possible to be an OFSTED inspector and still have friends! This year Tom and I were also roped in to help.

I was given the job of race controller - a very grand title for someone who registered the teams, allocated  time slots for their races and presentations, and gave out the goodie bags. Tom was the official photographer/ gopher and Tim the Bernie Eccleston of the event!



The commitment of the pupils and teachers was tremendous. Some teams had come from Scotland and a couple of teams had even travelled from St Petersburg in Russia




The day was busy but very worthwhile. The RAF museum staff at Cosford were superb hosts and the standards set by the pupils extremely high. Every one of them was a credit to their schools and to themselves. The passion and the technical knowledge of the students was excellent with the Russian pupils able to present to the five judges in near fluent English.

The overall winners with their teacher Bob ...


Amidst all of the Government talk about falling standards these kids were doing stuff that I couldn't have done at their age, although like Mr Gove, I might possibly have been better at rote learning ...

13 comments:

  1. Looks like the winners are from Scotland -- excellent! :-)
    What perfect example of how to learn highly valuable skills: teamwork, sharing of ideas, the benefits of trial and error, interpersonal and communication skills... I could name a few more. Sadly Mr Gove would find all this much less relevant to the kids' future jobs/careers than learning a set list of 'stuff' in an O level....

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    1. Hi Niall and Antoinette,
      You've picked out so well what the whole event was about, and what had to go on in schools before teams even entered!
      Mr Gove just doesn't have a clue and obviously formulates policy on the hoof.
      His latest GCSE - O level/CSE -GCSE an example!!

      Also, if you were going to question the value of a particular exam would you do it as kids were taking the exams or even worse collecting their results!

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    2. P.S. Forfar Academy won the event and another couple of teams from George Watson in Edindurgh did extremely well.

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  2. This is amazing. What an undertaking, and what a fabulous experience for the kids. These are the things that students will remember about their school days. I also need to add that I too have friends ( and family) who have done their time as Ofsted inspectors and most of them are truly lovely people ! J.

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    1. You're right Janice, there were some great OFSTED inspectors. Whether there will still be under the regime of Mr Gove and Michael Wilshaw is another matter.

      My school is due an OFSTED next year....

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  3. That looks much more fun than the stuff I used to do at school!

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  4. I had never heard of this before but it sounds like fun!

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    1. Although I'm not a particularly technical science teacher I could see how all of the pupils taking part were really enjoying themselves.

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  5. New to me also but it sounds like a great idea. I also wish we had things like that when I was at school. Diane

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  6. Tim started the competition about five years ago. Now I believe hundreds of school take part, some as a club and others as a curriculum project.

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  7. Hi Gaynor,
    Managed to track you down!!! Thanks very much for your kind hospitality on our trio to RAF Cosford. We were absolutely delighted with our award and have started work on our next year's entry already!! It is the best STEM challenge we have been involved in and it is all down to Tim's hardwork! Thanks again.
    Kind Regards
    Bob Baldie
    PT Design Technology Forfar Academy

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  8. Hi Gaynor,
    I managed to finally track you down!! I wanted to thank you on behalf of Forfar Academy for your hospitality at RAF Cosford- it was very much appreciated. The scalextric4schools engineering challenge is an excellent STEM based project that we are trying to in our

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