School is a great thing, we don't doubt nor question that. However, earlier this year, we did question what could make school better? And with that, we found the answer to our solution: to school add F1. Besides simply taking part in a fun experience, our team, Entropy, also found numerous benefits to taking part in the program, benefits that could potentially benefit people around the world. Let me explain.
What is F1 in Schools?
The F1 in Schools program is an international Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program, and involves teams to design and manufacture their own minature F1 car fuelled by a simple CO2 canister. Teams must also be able to market their product as well as gain knowledge from experts within various industries relating to F1. After the first steps of constant refinement and manufacturing, these teams come together to race against each other, and eventually, one or a small handful of teams progress onto the next stage, from Regionals to State to Nationals to World Finals.
How it helps
However, as stated earlier, the program is not just something done as a hobby, like train modelling, but rather it is a source of information, as team members gain knowledge of physics, through improving the aerodynamics of their car, engineering, through the porcess of manufcaturing the car, and economics, as teams must market their product effectively and seek to gain sponsorship and support from multiple sources.
For the people who take part in the program around the world, such as the members of Entropy, they gain this knowledge through the education of the program, ready for use in their future careers, be it in engineering, commerce or even being involved in the F1 industry itself. Furthermore, the program greatly improves on the communication and collaboration skills of participants, all of which is useful for working in any desired career path. It is these people which grow up to become the future engineers, designers, marketers of their time, providing their economy with more and better options and simply allowing for more innovation. This is one of the primary reasons why the Department of Defence of Australia is the primary sponsor of the program.
The Design Process
The design process for F1 in Schools is something that is long and requires a lot of hard work. It begins with designing and initial concepts, looking up design for innovation. Our design is done in Solidworks, a 3D CAD program. Over the course of the project, we combined the scientific knowledge that we learnt from IB Group 4 subjects to produce a design that was aerodynamic and easy to manufacture. Testing is an important part of the project, and we tested our design in Solidworks, using a virtual wind tunnel to give us drag readings.
With a design made and virtually tested, we moved to manufacturing it. We only used what we had, which was balsa and the CNC Router at our school, a Roland MDX-650 Pro. The car file was put into Modela Player 4, a CAM program, to choose the cutting paths to create a car. We milled our balsa block in two layers, firstly a roughing layer with an R3 ball, then a finishing layer. We didn’t just use balsa wood, we used 3D printed parts that we made with the help from an industry company, Wysiwyg 3D. The 3D printed parts we made were wings and wheels.
FInally, we finished and assembled the car. Our car was covered in wood filler, primer and then paint, along with clear stickers. The wheel system was assembled with aluminium axles that we took from an unused toy. Our car was assembled then raced down the track. This process was long, but allowed us to learn many things about designing and to pass them on.
One of the scientific principles used was the concept of reduction of surface area to reduce overall drag on our car. This follows a formula, where the drag coefficient is equal to twice the drag force over the fluid density times the velocity of our car squared times the reference area, that being the front of our car. Through research conducted, we found that by reducing the value for the reference area on our car greatly reduces overall drag. To do this, in the design we cut a channel out through the bottom of our car which not only reduced the surface area of our car, but also directed air through the underside of the car, channelling it into the canister flow, maximising the work done by the thrust of the canister on the car.
Secondly, we rely on Bernoulli’s principle and Newton’s 3rd Law to create a car that has little to no lift or downforce. Bernoulli’s principle states “as the speed of a moving fluid (air) increases, the pressure within the fluid decreases.By increasing the length the air over the top of the wing has to travel by curving it, you can reduce the pressure. We combined this with Newton’s 3rd law (every action has an equal and opposite reaction) to create a car that has equal downforce and lift.
These three scientific laws, principles or equations were successfully used to make our car go faster, as well as teach us about scientific principles.
Our final result was an F1 car suitable for racing against other competitors, not only looking fast, but actually being fast as well. Throughout the program, each member of Entropy's knowledge of the topics involved was greatly improved, and our ability to comunicate with one another effectively in a group as to collaborate was greatly developed. Not only that, but along our journey to to competitions, we also met other teams who had felt the same way, believing that F1 in Schools had truly helped them and prepared them for the future careers. As well as that, we have also gotten students outside of the prgoram to become greatly interested in STEM subjects, some even starting to join the F1 in Schools program. As such, F1 in Schools is greatly effective at what it seeks to achieve, with the future of the program itself, and the future of the students involved looking bright.
Further progress of our project can be found at our other blog: https://4entropy.wordpress.com/