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Royal Navy helps propel Littlehampton pupils to victory in nationwide rocket race

A Royal Navy-backed team of schoolchildren powered to victory in a rocket-fuelled race aimed at encouraging the best and brightest young engineers in the land.

The miniature rocket car designed and built by students from Littlehampton Academy in West Sussex proved faster than any other vehicle created by their 58 rivals in the national Race for the Line event

Some 78,000 Year 7 pupils in schools and academies across the land rose to the challenge to design, build and race tiny model cars – inspired by the Bloodhound Supersonic Car and its land speed record attempt.

Powered by miniature rockets, the students’ tiny cars reach speeds proportionate to the full-sized Bloodhound topping its target of 1,000mph.

After a series of heats around the UK, the top 59 teams converged on RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire where, in addition to the main event, the schoolchildren were treated to displays by legendary Spitfires, the latest RAF Typhoons and the Red Arrows, while Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) advocates were on hand to highlight the opportunities open to young people in the Royal Navy.

As for the main race – watched by the Countess of Wessex, who is also sponsr of Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring – Littlehampton Academy were crowned winners with their car recorded maxing out at 66.1mph, actually seven mph slower than the top speed managed by the car in the qualifier.

“It takes a massive amount of thinking and hours of engineering and practice, it’s an inspiring challenge, and I’m very proud of them,” said Littlehampton design, technology and science teacher David Flowers.

This event is a great opportunity to bring engineering to the younger generation in an exciting way. We just hope this experience will encourage more young people to take up STEM-based careers in the future.

Lieutenant Commander Ross Lee

Run by the Learning Partnership, the Race for the Line competition is intended to inspire and engage pupils with STEM, raising awareness of the opportunities and careers available to them.

As part of the Year of Engineering, the Royal Navy have been actively promoting and sponsoring STEM events up and down the country to assist with the national shortage of engineers and encouraging school children to take a closer look at engineering careers.

Commander Craig Wood, who supported the Portsmouth regional final where Littlehampton triumphed, said: “The sooner that we can connect the youth with these concepts and engineering in general, then perhaps we will break down that barrier that engineering is just mathematics and quite boring.”

Aulden Dunipace, Chief Executive of The Learning Partnership, added: “Without support from the three Forces this year, we would not have been able to deliver the competition. 78,000 students in Year 7 built rocket cars and raced them across their playgrounds, we ran 400 qualifying race events through the forces. It’s just a great partnership.”

In mentoring the school children, Lieutenant Commander Ross Lee said: “This event is a great opportunity to bring engineering to the younger generation in an exciting way. We just hope this experience will encourage more young people to take up STEM-based careers in the future.”

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