A crowd of enthusiastic children and their teachers gathered in fine weather on Wednesday 6th June at the Maryse Justin Stadium at Reduit for the final stages of a school competition that is so well supported that it looks all set to become an annual event in Mauritius for the years to come! 2018 is the third year for this contest to “Design, Build and Fly” a model glider, organized jointly by the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre and the Aeronautical Society of Mauritius (AeSM), whose objective is to give the students, working in teams, the opportunity to learn some of the Physics of Aerodynamics in an out-of-classroom fun environment. An example of learning by doing (and therefore understanding).
The competition arrangements began this year on 22 and 23 February, when some 400 students in Grades 10 and 12 from 67 schools with their supporting teachers participated in Workshops given by the AeSM and the RGSC. Here the rules of the competition and the Science of Flight were explained and illustrated by a variety of model gliders; tips on design and construction were also given. 166 team entries were subsequently received by the organizers, meanwhile models were being painstakingly built in the schools. In May these were presented for assessment of design and construction quality – an exercise measuring form, balance, finish and originality of the students’ creations. The best from Grade 10 and from Grade 12, as separate categories, were then chosen to go forward to the Fly-off Finals in the stadium: 38 models and their teams, which were to show their performance by making the longest possible distance flight from a series of hand-launches.
While the scores for Design and Construction (maximum 50 marks); and for the Flight Distance (30-50m was expected) were being collated, the participants were treated to an entertaining display of radio-controlled powered model aircraft, drones and cars, by model experts who impressed us all enormously.
In Grade 10:
First: Sookdeo Bissoondoyal State College
Second: New Eton College
In Grade 12:
First: Floreal SSS (with a remarkable flight of 49.8 metres)
Second: Phoenix SSS
We are grateful to the University of Southampton for sponsoring all the prizes, which were presented by Regional Director Melissa Gibson: Trophy and Rs8,000 for each of the winners; and Trophy plus Rs4,000 for the Runners UP.
All who took part left the Stadium reluctantly at the end of the proceedings. Here’s to next year!
Dick Twomey / 7 June 2018