STEM Event – Lee on Solent Sailing Club

Dec the 16th. The day mainly punctuated by wars, but also the day boys and girls from Lee on Solent Sailing Club learnt about the basics of marine engineering.

students making boats
All the kids at work!

One of the targets of ZAPA is to work with local youth groups to give them an introduction to marine engineering. The 16th was to a group of sailing mad kids with the support of their parents. It was great to see how they worked as a team and got their hands (and a few other things) dirty to get a practical understanding of the subject.

The three rules

As with the ZAPA programme the event started with learning about the 3 rules of designing a quick gutter boat.

  1. It needs to float.
  2. It needs to stay upright.
  3. It needs to be quick.

How things float was shown using a ball of blue-tack. Of course people think the ball will sink but by changing the shape it moves more water out of the way than its weight so it floats.

Staying upright, as they sailed they could understand how, by moving weight around you capsize so by using some paper, string and nuts then two sketches they could understand that having the weight low down was important.

Finally, having a demonstration with a spoon and tap of water or a hand out of the car when driving they had the outline of the shape they wanted.

The fun bit then came where they were split into 4 teams and chose their materials (wood, water bottle and polystyrene) to build their boats. I thought a few photos would do more justice to what they were doing than text:

Boat in gutter
The winning group trialling their boat

Finally the racing, each of the teams had a round-robin to put the designs in order. The kids could really see how their designs met and achieved those three rules and how the one which best matched them came out ontop! Hopefully, with their boats at home, they can continue modifying their designs to find the best one!

I'm looking for more ways to continue this experience particularly bringing in more industry involvement so if you would like to help us give these kids the skills and confidence to become our future engineers then get in touch.


Conrad Manning Racing

Conrad Manning Racing is born from Conrad’s goal of racing around the world in one of the most technologically advanced sailing boats in the world, the IMOCA60. Due to the wide variety of engineering disciplines that sailing has and Conrad’s own background in Naval Architecture a second side of the project has been set up to match his goal for the sailing to give back to the community, which is how ZAPA has come about.

ZAPA is a new business set up to generate more interest in engineering amongst young people. Growing from small activities and working with local businesses, schools and innovation spaces the goal is to create an engaging pathway that those students can follow to become the next generation of engineers.

ZAPA corner….

I came across a Ted talk many moons ago where it talked about procrastination, a big word and one that most people have negative connotations with. It's also one that I wouldn't describe myself with, nor would anyone you'd ask! However, after listening to Tim Urban's talk a couple of times that negative connotations are melting away, yes being lazy and not productive is an issue, it's a different way of thinking and coming up with better and new ideas. It only clicked yesterday that this was me and ZAPA, by letting the ball roll gently forwards, talking to people, getting advice, I'm meeting some amazing people and learning things that will make it a success. If I went headfirst into it like I usually would then I wouldn't have met a family member who's sharing his hindsight or a mutual friend who can help make this happen... There are of course so many things left to do but here's Tim's talk that I thoroughly enjoyed:

Arthur Conan Doyle column

Here's my Arthur Conan Doyle little column about how I’m finding sponsorship…

I recently came back from France with Hannah Stodel, a 4 time Paralympian who knows a thing or two about finding sponsorship! Sitting in the car discussing what needs to be put in place before taking the next step forwards was invaluable and almost is becoming my roadmap and shopping list. It's as if I have given my literal/engineering mind it's supercharger, turbo and nitrous! Heck you should see what is happening to the man cave 😛

Rehab/Physio corner

Been having a good chat with Hannah whilst having my leg in the air trying to improve my flexibility (my hamstrings and glutes are abysmal)! I've now got more of a plan of how to improve my strength... Now just to work out how to get to Perform in Southampton as I no longer work there :S Still, might just mean I get fitter but not something I particularly look forward to now that winter is upon us!

It looks like I really need to make the most of the off season to get prepared for what ever rollercoaster gets thrown my way next year!

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