Pupils in the UAE are aiming to accelerate efforts to protect the planet, by swapping textbooks for the race track to design, build and compete in their own electric cars.
Children from 11 Gems Education schools are taking part in a long-standing competition aimed at inspiring learners to pursue careers in motorsport while supporting the environment.
Pupils at participating UAE schools are given kits to design and build electric cars. Then teams will assemble cars to compete in the Formula 24 category race final for 11 to 16-year-olds in March 2024.
“It’s an appropriate time to focus young people’s attention on electric vehicles, with the UAE preparing to host Cop28, and making every effort to reduce emissions,” said Ryan Trutch, chief executive at Pole Position.
“Our aim is to create additional pathways for young people to pursue careers in engineering and various scientific fields, enabling them to have a more significant impact on society."
The Greenpower programme is being led by Pole Position, a Dubai-based automotive events and motorsports consultancy in collaboration with Gems Education and Greenpower Education Trust, a UK-based charity which has been running the project for over 20 years.
Each year more than 10,000 pupils around the world take part in the initiative, which helps pupils from primary school to college develop skills required for careers in motorsports, engineering, and team management.
Sanya Memon, a 15-year-old Indian pupil at Gems Winchester School Dubai took part in the challenge, saying her team finished the challenge in two-and-a-half months.
"I was intrigued by how motors work and how you assemble cars,” said Sanya, a grade 11 pupil.
"I really liked the design part of it working on the electrical assembly was also really fun."
Sanya said the experience inspired her to learn about electrical vehicle engineering as a hobby.
Up against global competitors
Pupils in the UAE will work as part of 12-member teams.
They will then will be judged on the build of the car, the quality of the aerodynamics, and the design. More than 2,500 teams worldwide have participated in the Greenpower programme.
“We want all UAE schools to have the chance to participate in the programme over the coming years. We look forward to further discussions with partners to make this a reality,” said Mr Trutch.
“At the moment this is at a national level because we only have 12 schools signed up.
“Later on, it will become part of a regional competition and then a worldwide competition. Those top teams will be invited to the world final for 11 to 16-year-olds next March.”
The competition is free for pupils and schools will be able to introduce it in their technology classes. Currently, it is an after-school activity.
Gems Winchester School Dubai carried out a pilot build of the car over the summer, and its team is working on completing work on the project.
Matthew Lecuyer, principal at the school said: “Greenpower has had a transformative impact on our pupils’ education by merging STEM learning with practical real-world application.
“These electric race cars provide our pupils with hands-on experiences in designing, building, and racing their own eco-friendly vehicles. In the process, young learners develop critical skills like problem-solving, teamwork, and innovation, essential for their future careers.”