Dyffryn taf team dragon
Our club was started in 2002 with just one member, six years later we have over sixty active members aged 11 to 18 (30 boys and 30 girls) and have just been voted the Best Young Engineers Club in Wales for the second year running.
Based in the Design Technology department the club meets every lunch time and two evenings per week to work on a wide range of local, national and international competitions. I am assisted by Mr Tighe our DT Technician, Mr Tippett our Electronics teacher and a group of older club members who act as mentors to the younger ones.
The club receives no funding so we rely entirely on winning prize money to run the club. Travelling costs are our biggest expense so we are lucky that we have the generous support of Autoall our local car hire firm who provide us with 50% discount on car and minibus hire.
We named the club Team Dragon to show our Celtic roots and we have a large dragon mascot that we take to events and include in press photos. We have forged close links with the local press and make sure that every achievement is well covered in local newspapers making good use of interesting photos.
We didn’t achieve success overnight; for example our participation in the F1 in Schools Challenge has been a steep learning curve and it took us fours to win the Welsh Championship in 2006. Likewise we entered the BAA Challenge three years running before making it to the finals in 2008.
Our school motto is ‘Aim for the Highest’, so the Airbus Challenge Project Eggs Factor provided us with the ideal vehicle to involve over 200 pupils firing more than 3,000 rockets achieving a distance of 105 metres with Dragon Eggspress.
As part of our transition work we had been visiting local feeder schools with the TEP Rocket Factory for several years so involving them in Project Eggs factor seemed a natural progression. The project was such a success we now act as an umbrella organisation supporting three Junior Dragon clubs who also take part in the K’Nex Challenge and Cracking Ideas.
To gain that vital edge in competitions we visited RAF Cosford to improve the design of our Eggs Factor rockets and to help with the design of our vessel for RN Challenge we visited the SS Great Britain in Bristol where we took part in a workshop on buoyancy and salvage. The research paid off and we came 2nd in Operation Wave Rider in 2007
The past academic year has been our most successful to date winning no less than seven major prizes in 20 competitions that included the Engineering Education Scheme Wales, Engineering Week Wales racing electric buggies at the Wales Rally GB, The Royal Society Junior Science Book Prize, the Volvo Eco Adventures Awards, The Independent-Bosch Technology Horizons Award and the Urdd Eisteddfod.
The highlights of the year were when one of our Sixth Form members was selected to take part in the LRET Engineering Experience and being invited to showcase the work of our club at the Celebration of Engineering in Greenwich where we met Dr Rex Garrod of Robo Wars fame and received the Award for Engineering Excellence from Land Speed record holder Wing Commander Andy Green.
Planning for the next academic year, we are looking forward to entering the Toyota Technology Challenge and British Schools Karting Championship and increasing the size of our Junior Dragons by adding two more local primary schools.
Finally, we are looking to attending the 2009 UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London where our ambition is to win the Club of the Year Award.
Kevin S Abel
Club Leader and Design Technology Teacher at Dyffryn Taf School
Narbeth Junior Dragons
Girls on Pillar Drill