Picture gallery: Norwich school hosts miniature racing car event

Blink and you'll miss them – they may be built from balsa wood and foam but their acceleration could leave their real-life counterparts in the shade.

Miniature racing cars tore down a track in a Norwich sports hall as part of competition designed to boost interest in engineering among youngsters.

Pupils from six schools in Norfolk and Suffolk took part in the final of Hethel Engineering Centre's regional CO2 powered car competition at City of Norwich School (CNS).

Teams of youngsters had built model cars powered by CO2 cylinders – the same kind used in soda siphons – and were racing them on a 25m track.

Schools taking part in the competition were CNS, Notre Dame High, Sprowston High, Framingham Earl High, Dereham's Northgate High and Leiston High, Suffolk.

The competition, which runs in tandem with the F1 in Schools project, aims to foster an interest in design and engineering and help pupils develop their skills.

The cars completed the course is a little over a second, reaching speeds of about 55mph.

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Rob Stirling, education and skills co-ordinator at Hethel Engineering Centre, said: 'Fun is the main thing. The kids get a buzz out of seeing their cars flying down the track.

'The students are all proud of what they have created. They're here after school and in their own time. They want to show off what they have done.

'The project aims to inspire the engineers of the future. It's about improving their CAD (computer-aided design) skills. Those at a lower level are making hand-made cars and will still be considering drag and wind resistance and improving their science as well.'

Steve Laddiman, design technology teacher at Notre Dame High, said pupils from his school had made weekly trips to Hethel to learn from engineering experts as part of the F1 in Schools programme.

'They've learned how to use Solidworks, which is a design program, and they've learned how to work as a team and to a tight specification, as you would in F1. They have also learned about promotion, advertising and they have had to get a sponsor,' he said.

'It's been great. They have really enjoyed it and have learned a lot.'

The competition was won by Team Tornado from CNS, which completed the course in a time of 1.007 seconds.