Pupils steam ahead in railway challenge

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Students from a Denby school ventured to the historic Roundhouse in Derby to take part in a railway challenge.

Sam Bate, Sam Boyall, Lizzie Colenso, Josh Reddish and Megan Swift from John Flamsteed Community School took part in the prestigious iRail 2015 event.

The event was designed to explore Derby’s historic association with the rail industry by looking back at the innovations that made today’s railways possible, as well as looking to the future.

The 12 schools from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire who took part were split into two strands, one looking at the railway infrastructure and one at rolling stock.

John Flamsteed’s team, looking at rolling stock, was given the task of designing the improvement of railway carriages to make train travel quicker and more comfortable in the future.

This was to be presented to a Dragon’s Den style panel of judges, comprising of railway industry professionals.

After the challenge was set, students visited Network Rail’s East Midlands Control Centre, based in Derby, followed by the Bombardier Transportation factory to see how London Underground trains are being manufactured.

Head of technology Paul Hammond said: “These visits provided a close up view of the railway industry and were not only interesting, but also gave the students a chance to quiz industry experts to gain as much information as possible to help with the presentation.”

Once back at the Roundhouse with new ideas in hand, the team set about designing their carriages of the future and planning the presentation.

Mr Hammond added: “They soon came up with a series of great ideas, which they felt sure would impress the judges.

“There were more than 100 students from all over Derbyshire taking part in the event and the standard of competition was really high.

“The team did a superb job and provided some excellent in-depth answers to very demanding questioning from a panel of industry experts.”

The judging panel voted John Flamsteed’s presentation and innovative ideas as the best and they were awarded their trophy as strand winners.

As winners of the rolling stock challenge, the team then went head-to-head with the winners of the other challenge, where they narrowly missed out on an overall win.

Mr Hammond said: “I was extremely proud of their performance. Another excellent show of creative thinking and resourcefulness from our students.”