The Avonside Girls High School teams have had an eventful couple of years in EVolocity – including a disastrous theft of their karts in 2022 (which featured on Seven Sharp), along with competition success in 2023. Quentin Smitheram is Assistant Head of Technology at Avonside Girls in Christchurch – here’s his account of their 2023 competition:
Saturday 21st Oct were the Canterbury Evolocity Reginal finals. We had 3 carts entered this year, two that were researched, designed and built by students as their NCEA program and one that was a lunchtime project for several students throughout the year. Students involved this year were Bella Ryan, Hannah Mitchell, Darnae Parks, Piper Wilson, Lily O’Neil along with Jessie Elcock and a couple of Y9s helped out here and there. It was a battle to get these carts completed as the completion date seems to get closer each year. Throw in teacher strikes, one team all getting covid in the week prior to race day, and a cart that didn’t like being driven. This all added to the last week being very stressful and a huge challenge. We made it but we also had last year’s catastrophe (carts being stolen the night before) in the back of our minds. We wanted to make this year a success as some of the girls were still competing from the previous year and had worked so hard both years.
The NCEA program is not just building a cart from a plan given to students. It involves starting from scratch, understanding all the parts and systems required and ensuring they all work together, and ergonomics and anthropometric data to ensure the cart is comfortable. The cart needs to be functionable plus it also needs to meet the very tight safety rules and regulations at scrutineering prior to being able to race. One cart built by the team, called Scrumpets (Y12, belonging to Bella, Hannah and Darnae), passed, but the other two carts, L&P (Y11, belonging to Lily and Piper) and Candy Crusher (the fun lunchtime project raced by Jessie) were pulled up on a few things. Once again, the pressure was on to try and get these carts right. Luckily, we had the support of parents who were their to support their young racers. One parent is an electrician, who tests and repairs very expensive lifesaving hospital equipment and another parent, a Forensics scientist/investigator for the police. Both are very clever, capable and dedicated. The scrutineering was a little inconsistent but, all in all, we understood these 1000w go carts are capable of 30km plus and need to be safe to drive.
The competition had changed a lot from a few years ago with the `she’ll be right’ mentality when the motors were smaller and the carts slower. We missed last years scrutineering so didn’t know that all the old people involved had moved on. UC engineers had taken over and they were very strict. Because of the repair work, we missed 2 hours of racing but The Scrumpet cart was racing well. It had competed in the timed sprints and the stop fast event. It also competed in the Gymkhana time trial involving carrying water in a bucket, weaving in and out of cones, and stopping to pass the water to a race official while driving a very tricky track as fast as you can and not spilling water.
The day was a huge success and all carts got to race. L&P and Candy Crusher had missed a couple of earlier events, but did however, compete in the drag race and stop fast with a skid to finish off. Everyone involved had a super time, even under the pump as we were. We think this brought us all together as one well-oiled team and got the job done.
Racing over with and onto the prize giving. After a long day, leaving home at 6am to pick up carts and students and now close to 5pm, waiting for the results. Lots of teams from lots of school competed in different classes. Avonside won overall winners in ‘best showstopper’. Scrumpets got first and L&P got second in category. This was amazing. Scrumpets got second place in the overall open class carts which included times and points from all the events they entered in. This is super cool and I am very proud of Bella, Hannah and Darnae. They drove very well, shared each event, and cheered on everyone else along the way. We also won a certificate of achievement award for team spirit, persistence and perseverance, the only special award given out. So, a successful day on and off the track.
This is always a fun event, but when you look around the carpark, you can see carts being worked on to the last minute, some not making it, some making it but not finishing, batteries dying, controllers burning out and welded parts breaking. If something can go wrong, it does so on race day. To have all of my amazing students racing and competing in their carts, that they worked so hard on, was fantastic. I am very proud of Bella, Hannah, Darnae, Piper, Lily and Jessie.
1st best show stopper (that wow factor and everyone looks and goes now that’s the coolest looking cart, Scrumpets)
2nd best show stopper (that wow factor and everyone looks and goes now that’s the second coolest cart, L&P)
2nd in 1000w cart overall (all events) Scrumpets
The only `Special award’ for team spirit, perseverance and not giving up.
A big thank you to Katie and the trustees at Tait communications, sponsor of Avonside Girls’ High School Evolocity team 2022 and 2023. Funding all parts and materials for the students builds and 2 Laser cutters/3d printers for the Hard Materials department.