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Pole Position for STEM!

F1 in Schools

Published: 3/04/2023

Babacar Samb is a GCSE student at Lionheart School, with a passion for motorcar racing and Formula 1. He describes his experience of participating in the F1 in Schools competition, which took place in January at MechSpace, UCL. More information about the competition can be found here.

At Lionheart, we put children at the centre of everything we do, so we love nothing more than showcasing their amazing work!

Accelerating STEM students through F1 in Schools: My experience

By Babacar Samb

Recently, I enjoyed going to MechSpace at UCL as part of the F1 in Schools competition, which I participated in this year, and I wanted to document the journey which led to my visit. 

F1 In Schools is a global competition where students aged 9-19 will participate in building a model race car and racing against others from all around the world. It is a great STEM opportunity for those who love automotive engineering. I got involved with it by applying online and finding teammates to join the competition with. My Mom really encouraged me throughout the entire project. I loved the concept of the F1 in Schools journey because I am a huge petrolhead and I also happen to love STEM.

The organisation says:

Our main objective is to help change the perceptions of science, technology, engineering and maths by creating a fun and exciting learning environment for young people to develop an informed view about careers in engineering, Formula 1, science, marketing and technology. 

I worked with two other drivers from my local karting track; the racing director and I, alongside my teammates, worked with our parents to make sure we were on the task to build a great, legal car. We had to carefully prepare how our car would be designed, taking into account physical factors such as drag, speed, weight, and design of the car, while staying within the regulations. We designed it on CAD and then had it manufactured by one of my teammates who had a 3D printer at his school. I learnt that F1 In Schools is almost similar to F1 itself; you have to look at the regulations, build a car that doesn’t have any legality issues, network with people, be creative, and understand almost every minute detail. To participate in F1 in Schools, you have to be passionate, motivated, creative, willing to learn, and have a passion for STEM/Cars.

We ended up being 16th overall in the whole competition which wasn’t half bad considering we had a small window to build the car and we were facing people who had more experience and more time. We were also 1st out of everyone in the Entry Class. 

As a follow up, we visited Silverstone for four days in a row to watch the global finals of F1 in Schools, contested by Pro Class and Dev Class. It was amazing to be back at Silverstone and, of course, there happened to be a track day happening outside on one of the days. I saw McLarens, BMWs, Caterhams, Ferrari, Volkswagen Golf, and a Lotus.

As part of the F1 in Schools competition, I visited the MechSpace UCL with my mom and my science teacher. MechSpace is a cool place, they had a Formula Student car, a Shell Concept car, lots of tires, used for mars rovers, which were on display, they even had a reaction time machine. We were listening to talks, one of which was about using the CNC machines which are used for moulding the design of the block. For most of the day we were also meeting people who had previously done F1 in Schools, it was amazing. They allowed me to test the car that me and my team built and we managed to have a reaction time test (I won). It was amazing to go there and see how much experience, knowledge and passion for STEM/Engineering all of the previous F1 in Schools contestants had.