Pupils reach The Big Bang Competition finals

Posted In Academic

Bethany School’s STEM department entered two groups of pupils in The Big Bang Competition online heats in November. The competition recognises and rewards young people’s achievements in all areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), whilst providing them with the opportunity to build their skills and confidence in project-based work.

Over the past month, over 70 judges in the field of STEM have been reviewing projects and helping the Big Bang Fair organisers select the winners who will be attending the finals. The competition was fierce and the organisers were amazed at the high standard this year.

We are delighted to announce that two projects from Bethany School have been successful – The MAW Heating Solution and The Honda MT-50 Restoration Project – and pupils will be attending the finals at the Birmingham NEC on Wednesday 13th-Thursday 14th March 2019.

The MAW Heating Solution

Max Brown, Alex Clarke and Will Stoneham designed a solar air heater using materials that are often taken for granted like soft drinks cans. The Max, Alex and Will (MAW) Heating Solution is a great feat of engineering and innovation!

The boys designed and produced the heater because heating individual houses can require up to 30,000-kilowatt hours of energy each year in the UK. As a result, around 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions are produced because of this and represents a quarter of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions. The boys set themselves a challenge to change this.  They came up with a with the idea of a heater, that was simple, cheap, and made from readily available materials that households normally take to the landfills. They also wanted the heater to be recreated anywhere in the world. The MAW heater uses energy from the sun to heat cans and the surrounding air which could then be transferred to a house.

As might be expected the team came across problems which they had to resolve. For example, they found it very challenging to drill holes in cans because the aluminium metal is particularly thin, causing the cans to deform easily and cause possible injury.

The Honda MT-50 Restoration Project

Aaron Monk, Ben Scott, Joe Bateman and Tommy Good set themselves a challenge to restore a Honda bike. New motorbikes often last two years on average before they go rusty and look like a complete mess, then they are sent to the scrap yard. On the average, a branded bike like Yamaha or Suzuki with an engine size of 50cc will cost upwards of £2500. The restored Honda cost £400 to buy. “We have stripped it down and repainted it. The bike will cost us about £1,000 pounds to restore. That’s still cheaper than buying a new moped, and we like recycling while giving the bike a new lease of life — restoration and recycling help to save the environment as less metal goes to the landfill”, said Aaron.

The 1985 Honda MT-50 is a 50cc moped which has been a labour of love for the last four months and is now looking pretty! The boys are delighted to see the completion of her. When the MT-50 came into the school workshop, it was rough and had ‘no life’. Nevertheless, the boys tore it apart, removed the rusty bits and embarked on a massive job to rebuild it and repaint the Honda. The first thing they did was fully dismantle the whole bike, label, and log all the parts. The four boys were able to complete the teardown in four days working during lunch and break times.

The second step was painting the frame and the engine. They wire-wheeled the whole frame and got the original R119 paint and sprayed it back up. We did the same thing with the engine and used anti-bloom to strip the engine. The engine was in excellent running order. The team’s motto was that “If it does not need fixing don’t try and fix it”. Once the frame was done the only thing left to do was to fit the engine back to the frame. The bike started to take shape once again. The team was quite pleased to see the bike finally coming back together. It is daunting when the bike is in bits and scattered here and there and everywhere. They knew they had limited time before the deadline for the Big Bang Fair competition entries!

The finished product could cost anything close to £4000 if it were sold on the market. “So that’s one more bike pulled from the rough, made brand spanking new. It’s a nice feeling knowing that we have been able to put an old bike back on the road. It has many more years of service” said Aaron Monk, the team leader.