Driving Change: Bumblebee Racing’s Journey to F1 in Schools

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Welcome Anonymous

Contributed by Vanessa, Bumblebee Racing

We are Bumblebee Racing, an all-girls F1 in Schools team dedicated to helping break down the barriers of entry and promote the presence of Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). F1 in Schools is an international competition that requires students to design, manufacture and race a model of a Formula 1 car. As a team, our ultimate goal is to win the National Finals and, eventually, World Finals of this competition. We create iteration after iteration, constantly searching for ways to improve and optimize our design to the best of our abilities to achieve this goal. The competition also involves engaging in elements of enterprise; we look for sponsorship, marketing opportunities, and consider things like the environmental impact of our team.

The journey from sketches on paper to models on a computer to a physical car is a long one, but we are all individually driven by our love for STEM. We are passionate about learning more and expanding the boundaries of our knowledge. To us, STEM represents the complexities that humans have been able to master and shows how deep our understanding of the world around us can be. This is why apart from the competition, we also wanted to inspire others to join us and contribute towards meaningful change and make STEM more accessible for everyone. We decided that the best way we could do this was by helping within our own community. Thus, we collaborated with local primary schools to create an ‘F1 in Schools Primary Class,’ where we teach local students about the scientific concepts behind a Formula 1 car. We also challenged the students to design their own cars by applying the concepts that they have learned with us. Eventually, we have them race their cars and give a presentation on their design choices, which the children thoroughly enjoy. Out of these experiences, we hope to have done our part in creating wider societal change. This has been a really valuable experience for all of us, learning new skills and progressing together as a team.

small yellow model race car with a sticker that says F1 in schools

Our main motivation for our push for change is that we want to share our love for STEM and ensure more people can enjoy it as we do. Fundamentally, we believe that STEM helps us make sense of the world around us, and with it, we can understand why things are the way they are. We love stripping down existence into small questions and then solving these questions using physics and science. There is an undeniable beauty in being able to understand the world around us and explaining simple things. Take the average door: using moments, we can figure out why door handles are situated far away from the door hinge. Or we can use the concept of convection currents to explain why heaters are usually situated at the bottom of the room, while air conditioning is placed near the top. Although these are simple concepts, it provides this extra layer of depth in our everyday life, which makes STEM so satisfying.

Our world is beautiful and because of science, we get to experience, appreciate, and understand that beauty. In particular, we love F1 in Schools because it begs for dedication, persistence, creativity and a willingness to push for more. It is about pushing the boundaries of what is possible and a constant drive for more knowledge. Of course, the journey to producing a faster car is not always lateral. Sometimes, we find that the design philosophy we have been following is not the best way to proceed and we have to backtrack. However, being able to find out which things work and which do not is also fascinating to us. It is a part of the problem-solving process, and it teaches us always to question concepts that we had accepted as satisfactory and ask ‘How can we make this even better?’ Working together as a team to find the answers to these puzzles reminds us why we are so passionate about STEM. We search for creative new ways to improve our designs and find that extra millisecond. It is these milliseconds that define winners and losers; this makes F1 in Schools so exciting for us.

For us, our role models are undoubtedly contributing factors to our success. We have had the honor of working with remarkable people that have encouraged us to pursue our dreams and always strive for more. It is their example, their unwavering passion, and their admirable dedication that has been a driving factor in our work. Prior to our regional finals, we were unsure whether we would be able to deliver all of our project elements as we’d had a comparatively late start. Our teacher and one of our biggest supporters encouraged us to continue and complete it to the best of our abilities. She urged us to go all in, even if we couldn't achieve the desired outcome, and to attend the competition as a learning experience. She taught us that even if it wasn’t the outcome we had wanted, we could still push toward our goal and attend the competition.

After this, we had a renewed motivation to try and finish all of our project deliverables. From this, we learned many valuable lessons and our drive towards the finish line was a testament to our willingness to learn, perseverance, and hard work. Her unwavering belief in our abilities and our team was a huge source of inspiration and it was the reason we were able to attend regionals day with all of our deliverables. She believed in us when we doubted ourselves, and her encouragement was instrumental in our success. We eventually came 3rd in our regional round and won an award for the best team identity, a feat which would not have been possible without her. She helped us overcome our challenges and achieve our full potential. By showing us the importance of a role model, she has also encouraged us to give back to our community and give back the same lessons that she taught us. We hope to one day inspire and encourage more young women to pursue their dreams in the same way that she did for us.

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