October 3rd, 2011
Minibike challenge fuels learning
When Rosmini College’s Year 12 Engineering class was told they were allowed to ride their mini motor bikes during the day’s lesson, excitement swept the room.
Eight students from Rosmini College are preparing to descend on Feilding’s Manfeild Raceway for the 2011 Mini Moto Grand Prix on October the 18th – putting their mechanical engineering skills to the test.
Students purchased a $250 starter kit set bike in term one – from which they had to create a race worthy piece of machinery.
This innovative approach to learning gives senior students a hands-on taste of the benefits of a career in mechanical engineering and acts as a stepping stone to transition students into apprenticeships when they leave school.
“The enthusiasm from the class has been amazing,” says Phil Jones, Engineering and Technology Teacher at Rosmini College. “How many other lessons do you get where students are asking to come in on their lunch break or after school?”
Although an initial expense for the students to purchase the kitset, Mr. Jones says this helps them to take more pride in their work as they feel a sense of ownership.
So far, 25 schools and over 300 machines – minibikes and side cars – are entered to compete. Entrants are confirmed from as far afield as Murchison Area School in the South Island – demonstrating the competition’s wide appeal.
The event was founded by Feilding High School in 1997, and has since grown in popularity – with this year’s race set to be the biggest yet. “When I first started out as a teacher here there were 12 engineering students, now I have 110,” says Roger Emmerson, Head of Engineering at Feilding High School and a key event organiser.
Building the bikes has been no small feat, with students having to add to the kitset their own engine, suspension, steering and bodywork. Working individually on the minibikes, and in small teams for the side cars, students have the opportunity to learn MIG welding, lathe turning and drill press processes.
Students are aided by Tools4Work resources, produced by industry training organisation Competenz. The project gains students NZQA accredited unit standards towards the National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering Technology (Level 2).
Tools4Work’s association to Competenz means these credits are transferrable to a Competenz managed apprenticeship. “When students apply for an apprenticeship and employers ask, what did you do at school? well, look what they’ve got to show!” says Mr. Emmerson.
Riders will race in one or more of the following five distinct classes, and four rider weight categories per class will apply:
- Standard bike with 50cc air-cooled engine
- Modified bike with 50cc air-cooled engine
- Standard bike with 39cc water-cooled engine
- Modified 39cc water-cooled engine
- Side-car with 110cc Loncin engine (open rider weight)
The highest overall point winner will take away the cup, while the winner of the final race will receive a series of prizes sponsored by trade tool, manufacturing and engineering companies.
The event costs over $12,500 and Mr. Emmerson says it would be impossible to put on without the support from Tools4Work and sponsoring businesses.
“I hope more schools will get on board and compete next year,” says Mr. Jones. “It’s a great programme, which has received excellent feedback – I’ve had parents calling and emailing me to tell me how much their kids love it.”