National Science Week sees ultimate science project open to pupils in Wales

This week, over 200 pupils from selected schools in Wales have begun competing on Supersonic Cymru, an innovative challenge for key stage 3 pupils to break the World Land Speed Record using high performance computing.

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Led by High Performance Computing (HPC) Wales, the Challenge provides all participating pupils with access to a web portal hosting state of the art aerodynamics analysis software running on HPC Wales’ national supercomputing network. The software, based on the design of the Bloodhound Supersonic Car and established by Welsh SME Zenotech, enables participants to systematically modify the car’s design parameters and analyse distance, speed and acceleration data online, at the same time conducting classroom experiments to understand sound and aerodynamics to create a model suitable of breaking the Land Speed Record.

Pupils will work with teachers and engineers to test and modify their designs prior to a presentation and awards ceremony in May. The winning teams will be offered the exciting opportunity to meet the engineers and see the car in development later this summer, before it embarks on its journey to the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa for three months of high speed testing.

The opening of the Challenge will be marked at a special event at Techniquest’s National Science Weekend this Sunday for participating pupils and their families. The event will provide an opportunity to find out more about the exciting Challenge, attend a Bloodhound Show, and talk with Bloodhound's CFD Engineer Dr Ben Evans. Visitors to Techniquest will also be able to attend the Bloodhound Shows and experience what 1,000mph feels like in the Bloodhound Supersonic Simulator.

Part-funded by Welsh Government, HPC Wales is leading the Supersonic Cymru project in conjunction with several organisations as part of Schools Challenge Cymru, focusing on Pathways to Success schools.

Education Minister Huw Lewis AM said: “Technology touches every aspect of work today and it is important that young people recognise the breadth and understanding of the careers available to them in the ICT and Advanced Materials and Manufacturing sectors. This Challenge will provide pupils with first-hand experience of real life engineering tools and a range of experiences that will inspire, stimulate and benefit them in the future.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the Supersonic Cymru project evolve and ultimately I hope that a team within Wales manage to virtually design the car that breaks the land speed of 1,000mph.”

Dr Ben Evans, CFD Engineer at Bloodhound says: ‘The Bloodhound Project is all about inspiring a new generation of engineers and scientists.  I am very much looking forward to talking with the pupils and their parents about Supersonic Cymru this weekend; the Challenge provides an exciting opportunity for school pupils to get hands on with the software that has been used to design the actual 1,000mph jet and rocket powered car

“Supersonic Cymru is a great opportunity for pupils to get to the heart of the fantastic engineering adventure that is the Bloodhound Supersonic Car.’