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Carol Vorderman with volunteer, 3rd year
undergraduate Sally Clemo.
21 May 2008
The Department's Rocket Car Derby held on 15th March as part of the Cambridge Science Festival 2008 was described as "an enormous success on all fronts" by Professor Keith Glover, Head of Department.
The event, sponsored by Research Councils UK, was a hands-on activity day in which family teams designed, built and tested rocket powered cars. The activity was aimed at children aged 6-13 to show them the fun, creativity and relevance of engineering.
Over 900 people participated in the event resulting in the construction of 600 rocket cars. Carol Vorderman, Patron of the Festival, also attended.
The cars were constructed around a simple rolled paper tube capped at one end. They were propelled up and off a ramp using an electrically-controlled compressed air launcher. Participants investigated the variables which affect the distance travelled; these include wheel position, body design, car weight and the addition of wings! All teams were able to take home a 'what next?' ideas kit which will allow them to tackle further propulsion challenges at home.
Participant feedback after the event was glowing:
"We had a fantastic time and loved the fact we could continue designing and making at home with the plastic bottle rocket idea and materials. Thank you."
"A super set up and activity for science festival. Well done everyone involved!'"
"Brilliant, inspiring and very well organised."
The support of volunteers, striving to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists whilst developing their own transferable skills, was crucial to the success of the event. A team of 50 Cambridge University engineers (staff, students and alumni) assisted the teams with their design and construction.
Joy Warde, the Outreach Officer here at the Department who organised the event, recently won a 2008 Science and Engineering Ambassadors (SEAs) award for her outstanding contribution to initiatives that encourage young people's interest in engineering. Summing up the Rocket Car Derby Joy said, "It was fabulous to see families using some basic engineering principles to design, build and test a rocket car - and also have lots of fun."
Cambridge Science Festival
Cambridge University Engineering Department Educational Outreach
Details of how to make your own rocket car and a "try this at home" ideas leaflet can be downloaded here.
For more information on Joy Warde's SEAs award, see last month's news article "Outreach work by the Department of Engineering wins national accolade".
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