Formula One in Schools

12 April 2016
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Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 15:52 ): Deputy Speaker, if you drive past Brighton Secondary School this week you will see a new message on its ever-changing electronic sign which faces Brighton Road. The messages states that Brighton Secondary School is the national champion of Formula One in Schools. 

To be honest, I did not know a great deal about Formula One in Schools until last week when I met with Brighton's championship winning team at my electorate office. On Thursday morning, Nicole Kascak, the team and marketing manager, led a delegation of Brighton's Formula One in Schools team to my office. She was joined by Luke Battjes, the innovation manager; Ethan Govender, the industrial sponsorship manager; Jesse Stevens, design engineer; and Samuel Warburton, graphics designer. 

The team was also accompanied by Mr Stephen Read, Brighton Secondary School's STEM coordinator and the team's mentor. Together, the team is known as Negative Filter. Having won the national F1 in Schools title, they will be representing Australia and Brighton Secondary School at the International F1 in Schools finals in Austin, Texas later this year. In Texas, over 40 teams from around the world will be battling it out to reach the top and take home the title of world champion. 

What is the Formula One in Schools program? It is an international STEM program, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is a competition for school students aged nine to 19 in which groups of three to six students have to design and manufacture a miniature car out of the official F1 model block using CAD and CAM design tools. The cars are made of balsa wood, powered by CO cartridges and are attached to a track by a nylon wire. 

Students race the cars on a 24-metre track and are judged on the car’s ability to meet specifications set down by the F1 in Schools technical regulations; on the engineering of the car; on the production of an enterprise portfolio, an engineering portfolio and a pit display; on a timed verbal presentation where they have to outline their project; and of course on a race over the 20-metre F1 in Schools competition track. 

One of the great aspects of F1 in Schools is that it is not merely a science-based project for kids who want to lock themselves away in a laboratory: it is also a program which aims to develop their communication skills with marks awarded for presentation at competitions. Their participation in the project also helps them to develop other real-world skills, including marketing, project management, fund raising, collaboration and problem involving. 

Make no mistake about the extent of Brighton's achievements in getting to the finals in Austin, Texas. They have come out on top in Australia and they will now be in a competition with teams from 44 countries who have been in competitions involving 20 million students. 

I was incredibly impressed by Negative Filter. They are mature beyond their years, demonstrating intellectual and communication skills which many adults—even many parliamentarians—may not have mastered. Their maturity and obvious potential led me to have no hesitation in providing a small personal sponsorship to their project, and I hope that their fund-raising efforts are supported by South Australian organisations and businesses as they aim to raise $50,000 to take them to Texas. 

The world championships in Texas recognise exceptional achievement in categories, including Outstanding Industry Collaboration, Innovation, Best Engineered Car, Best Team Marketing, Fastest Lap award and more. The big prize, however, is for the winning team who will win scholarships for every member of the team to study engineering at London City University. What a phenomenal opportunity. 

Deputy Speaker, I want to make special mention this afternoon of Mr Steven Read for his role in making Brighton Secondary School's STEM program what it is today. Earlier this afternoon I spoke to someone from Re-Engineering Australia Foundation, the group who manage the F1 in Schools program in Australia and New Zealand, and they told me that they know STEM teachers from all over Australia and that Mr Read is one of the best in Australia, and possibly one of the best in the world, and they attributed Brighton Secondary School's previous successes in their competition and their success to date in 2016 to his excellent leadership of STEM teaching in Brighton. 

In closing, Deputy Speaker, I would like to put on record my sincere congratulations to Nicole, Luke, Ethan, Jesse, Samuel and Mr Read for their hard work to date and all best for their trip to Texas in October. I will ensure that I keep my parliamentary colleagues up to date on their progress.