Schoolkids build 150km/h rocket cars


The first Bloodhound model rocket car workshop in the Northern Cape will be held at the school today and teams of learners from the college will build model cars powered by commercially-available black powder rocket motors. This will introduce them to the practical application of Newton’s Laws, aerodynamics, quality manufacture and teamwork.

Bloodhound SSC aiming for 1000mph

Bloodhound’s education director in South Africa, Dave Rowley, said on Wednesday the model cars would be designed and manufactured in the morning, with each team of four indentifying the best aerodynamic shape for the 300mm long models that are capable of speeds in excess of 150km/h over a 50m track.

“The pupils will identify their individual roles such as team manager, head of manufacturing, design manager and press officer and will have the morning to complete their cars,” Rowley explained.

“Each team will be supplied with all the necessary materials including blocks of balsa wood for the chassis, wheels and axles and they will have to design their cars in the same way the Bloodhound design team did in the UK.”

Each team will have the opportunity of running their cars twice, ensuring their car has structural integrity to withstand the high g-forces encountered both during acceleration and deceleration.

Times will be recorded electronically and the winning teams will be awarded prizes.

They will also have to present their design decisions to the Bloodhound education team and produce a press release about their experiences of the day.


Lead Bloodhound ambassador, Christopher Maxwell, will run the day and has developed the challenge for South African schools.

It will, however, become a worldwide competition for schools to design the ultimate rocket-powered car using similar computational fluid dynamics (CDF) aerodynamic software used by the Bloodhound engineers who designed Bloodhound SSC.

“This very practical rocket car workshop provides many science, maths and technology learning opportunities in a fun and exciting way,” Rowley added.

Headmaster of St Patrick’s College, Jacques Tredoux, pointed out that science, mathematics and technology were now more important than ever.

“One can no longer focus on a mere subject pass. Students have to be exposed to additional opportunities in technical careers and practical training. It motivates pupils by stimulating interest and enjoyment and in turn develops open-mindedness and objectivity,” Tredoux added.

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Original source: Schoolkids build 150km/h rocket cars