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Clean Planet's student team reach Hydrogen RC World Finals

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

Imagine: thousands of students, from hundreds of schools, spanning over 20 different countries, all vying for a spot in a hydrogen-powered remote controlled Grand Prix World Final in Las Vegas.

The stakes? High. The energy? Greener than ever...

The Clean Planet Foundation, an organisation deeply committed to promoting sustainable use of plastics and the reduction of carbon emissions, stumbled upon (literally, during a walk in a park...) the H2 Grand Prix Series 🏁🏎️ - a competition so perfectly aligned with its ethos that they couldn't resist getting involved.

However, there was a challenge. The Grand Prix isn't running in the UK, which meant a touch of being creative and venturing out was needed. And venture out they did- The Clean Planet Foundation sponsored the Prague British International School (PBIS) to represent them in the Czech Republic national finals, a thrilling four-hour, hydrogen powered, endurance race.

Bertie Stephens, Clean Planet Foundation's CEO, describes it best:

“It’s science, it’s green energy, it’s education; it’s technology, engineering, all undertaken by the students, upcycling recycled materials to build the race cars. It’s everything we stand for."

About the Horizon Educational Grand Prix

The Horizon Educational Grand Prix is more than just a race – it's an innovative blend of science, technology, engineering, and green energy. Set against a backdrop of exhilarating competition, the Grand Prix challenges students from across the globe to design, build, and race hydrogen-powered remote-controlled cars.

Participants hail from hundreds of schools spanning over 20 different countries, all with the collective dream of reaching the world finals in Las Vegas. But what makes this competition truly unique is its core essence. It’s not merely about speed; it's about sustainable speed. Students are encouraged to upcycle recycled materials in the creation of their race cars, promoting an eco-friendly approach to design and technology.

Yet, it's not just about the hands-on building. Students delve deep into the intricacies of hydrogen power, green energy, and car mechanics. They learn to troubleshoot in real-time, make crucial engineering decisions under pressure, and collaborate seamlessly as a team. Students will even generate their own hydrogen using desktop electrolysis- splitting water with electricity into hydrogen and oxygen!

In essence, the Horizon Educational Grand Prix is a masterclass in applied science, pushing the boundaries of what young minds can achieve when presented with a challenge that’s both thrilling and educational.

The Unexpected Triumphs & Trials

Due to the late entry, and with merely two months to prepare (compared to the many years the other teams had), the team from PBIS showed an unmatched spirit. Surpassing expectations, they were on track to shatter records.

A first-year team had never maintained a car's momentum 3 hours into an endurance race, but their car was on course! But then, adversity struck...

Facing power leakages and disconnected servos, the team rallied together. Without assistance from their teachers or mentors, they displayed on-the-spot engineering skills, fixing their vehicle with some timely re-engineering, remastering of electrics, and (of course) a little bit of duct tape.

Their resolve to not just compete, but to complete the race was clear.

In Bertie Stephens' words in the video below, they faced "hit after hit." But just as the final lap loomed, a series of collisions seemed to end their journey.

Was that it? Were the Clean Planet PBIS team out on the final lap?! In a twist worthy of a Hollywood script, their earlier crossing of the line for the final lap, in addition to their speed for the last four horus, meant they had qualified for a wildcard entry to the world finals in Las Vegas! WOW!

Why not watch how the excitement unfolded...

The Learnings

The journey through the Horizon Educational Grand Prix is not just about crossing the finish line; it’s an educational odyssey that leaves lasting impressions on every participant.

1. Green Energy & Sustainability: Students are introduced to the future of transportation: hydrogen power. They gain firsthand experience in harnessing this green energy, understanding its potential and its importance in the quest for a sustainable future.

2. Teamwork & Collaboration: Being a part of the Grand Prix teaches students the importance of working together. It’s not just about individual brilliance but about how well they collaborate, communicate, and complement each other’s strengths.

3. Problem Solving Under Pressure: Real-time challenges, like the unexpected power leakages and disconnected servos faced by the PBIS team, test students' ability to think on their feet. This is where theoretical knowledge meets practical application.

4. Engineering & Innovation: From designing their cars to troubleshooting technical issues, students tap into their inner engineers. They experiment, innovate, and iterate, learning the critical importance of resilience and persistence.

5. Hands-on Experience: The Grand Prix offers students a rare chance to apply their classroom knowledge in a real-world setting. As Vendula Kobzova, Head of Science from PBIS noted, students feel like they are "living the dream," bringing their learning to life.

6. Growth Mindset: Perhaps the most invaluable lesson of all is the cultivation of a growth mindset. Students learn that setbacks, like the PBIS team’s series of collisions, are not the end but rather stepping stones to greater achievements.

In wrapping up the learnings from the Grand Prix, it becomes evident that while the race may end, the lessons linger, molding students into future leaders, innovators, and guardians of our planet.

Voices of Victory

The journey, filled with learning, passion, and resilience, inspired many. Here's what some had to say:

  • Vendula Kobzova, Head of Experimental Sciences, PBIS: "The children have told me they are ‘living the dream’ - and they love the learning experience."

  • Edyta Chmiel, Parent of Team Member: "I had tears in my eyes this morning when I saw them compete. This opportunity doesn’t come around very often."

  • Bára V, Team Member - Prague British International School: "We’ve learned about the car, how to improve it and the technology behind it. It’s been a very fun process."

  • Max Accordino, Horizon Educational: "PBIS were amazing. As a first-year team, they finished the endurance race, which isn’t typical for newcomers."

Looking Ahead: Vegas Bound!

With the world finals on the horizon, all eyes are now on the PBIS team. As they gear up for Las Vegas, we at the Clean Planet Foundation, and undoubtedly their countless supporters, wish them the best of luck.

Here's to championing green energy, promoting sustainable learning, and racing towards a brighter, cleaner future! 🌍🚗💨

Massive Congrats to Clean Planet's Prague British International School and thank you for representing Clean Planet Foundation's mission for green energy world wide

So for now... See you in Vegas for the World Finals... September 11-14th 2023! We'll be sure to let you know how it goes!


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