Page last updated at 15:01 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Building on the 'Bloodhound effect'

Bloodhound SSC (Curventa)

The British team which set the World Land Speed Record in 1997 are building a new car that is capable of reaching 1,000mph (1,610km/h). Known as Bloodhound, the vehicle will be powered by a rocket bolted to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine.

The project hopes to be an inspiration to the next generation of scientists and engineers, through its Bloodhound Education Programme. Here, Bloodhound's Education Ambassador Kate Bellingham explains how the message is being taken into schools.

It's a teachers dream: a class full of 13 year olds hanging on your every word; hands shooting in the air when you ask for volunteers; gasps of amazement followed by spontaneous applause; and the buzz of excitement as pupils leave the class, so fired up by what they've been doing.

I saw it this week, in the Hemel Hempstead School in Hertfordshire and, as a teacher myself, I found a broad grin glued to my face.

In front of 90 young people was James Piercy from "Engineering Explained" delivering 'Bloodhound on the Road'.

As a former teacher I also know that he has a huge advantage over "Miss" - they're not in the normal classroom, he's an outsider and he's talking about the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car.

On top of that, the media coverage of the British vehicle designed to break the world land speed record of 763 miles per hour, then show if it is possible for a car to go at the magical figure of 1,000 mph, has an obvious impact.

Coventry and Warwickshire Bloodhound K’Nex Challenge Final (Bloodhound SSC)
More than 2,400 schools have signed up to the education programme

The primary purpose of the Bloodhound Engineering Adventure is to help stimulate interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) through an iconic British project which can capture the imagination of all ages, and be a "vehicle" to support teaching and learning.

While a team of top engineers is working on highly complex design challenges, the Bloodhound Education Team is enabling schools to use the work as a context in a wide variety of ways.

Through experienced partners, such as Engineering Explained, "Greenpower", "F1 in Schools" and "Young Engineers", there is something for everyone.

Curriculum materials are linked to delivery in the classroom, and all ages can get involved, eg Bloodhound@Uni to the high quality "Primary Engineer" materials offering a complete unit of work with a Bloodhound theme.

Bringing chemistry to life

In a sector awash with initiatives and resources, one of the main aims of the Bloodhound Education Team is to appeal to the teachers as well as the students - with something to make their lives easier!

A data handling project based around real results from hybrid rocket tests you've just seen on video can enthuse those who are less than excited about analysing data from a text book.

Going from electronic engineering into teaching, I was acutely aware that my expertise covered several school subjects - maths, physics and design and technology for starters.

Redland High Junior School (Bloodhound SSC)
An independent study found the project to be having a mini "Apollo effect"

I had to choose which subject to train to teach. Bloodhound naturally covers STEM and beyond, and can open young eyes as to how these subjects interconnect, and how studying STEM further can lead to many opportunities.

In a world where boxes need to be ticked, however much we grumble about it, it's great to be involved with a project that can tick so many so easily.

The audience this week were not thinking about curriculum delivery or Ofsted requirements. The demonstration with high test peroxide, used in Bloodhound to provide oxygen for the hybrid rocket, brought the chemical symbols to life.

The complex images of aerodynamic effect on the car at different speeds were interpreted by an audience volunteer with a giant lollipop battling against a leaf blower.

James and his team cannot visit every school, but the new Bloodhound ambassadors could. All appropriately registered, these STEM enthusiasts from all round the country are being linked with local schools to offer support, and help with Bloodhound activities.

I'm delighted so many people are signing up to be ambassadors - but I'm not surprised. Sharing the Bloodhound experience with pupils on Monday, I felt honoured to be part of the Bloodhound Education Team… and proud to be a British Engineer.

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The power of imagination: Bloodhound's race with a Eurofighter

Kate Bellingham is the Bloodhound Education Ambassador. She is a secondary maths teacher, an engineer, and a TV presenter



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