Pendennis Shipyard Visit

A group of ten ‘A’ Level Product Design students from Tavistock College had a very inspiring visit to Pendennis Shipyard in Falmouth this January. The visit aimed to enrich the students’ understanding and awareness of different types of design, engineering and manufacture whilst hopefully really inspiring the students by showing them some really high specification outcomes. Pendennis are famous across the world for building and refitting superyachts. The students were given an extensive tour of the dry and wet dock facilities and were able to board an 85 metre superyacht which was in for a substantial refit. The students were amazed by the quality of craftsmanship as well as the problem solving nature of the works that were being carried out.

In the afternoon we visited Falmouth University’s Sustainable Product Design BA course, our progression partnership university. The students were given a real insight into the course and the facilities as well as being able to have their ‘A’ Level work critiqued and have valuable discussions about sustainable design with the course leaders and degree students. Mr Keegan who organised the trip said “Seeing the students presenting their work to degree students and then taking heed of the invaluable feedback is extremely rewarding as a teacher.” The A Level Product Design students will work with The degree course on numerous occasions through the year and the partnership which is now in its second year is having a very inspiring effect on the students and aspirations are really rising. Year 12 student Dominic Newton commented “I found both the Pendennis and university visits very beneficial. It was great to see an amazing workplace to aspire to and then see the degree course which looked fantastic. I really enjoyed the day and plan to study Product Design at Falmouth University after my A Levels.
Having the link in place is allowing me to start bridging the gap towards degree level study in my favourite subject.” We hope to run the same trip next year for a new cohort of students as opportunities like these are really helping to give students a path into some extremely exciting careers.


Pendennis Photo


Almost five hundred students from across the South West were involved in the National Science and Engineering Competition at the 2015 Big Bang South West. Tavistock College Design and Technology student Darcy Brown, aged 13, wowed the judges and picked up two fantastic awards in this high profile STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) event. Darcy was selected along with five A Level students from the school to represent their fantastic product design work on a regional stage at the event hosted by ‘Education Business Partnership – South West’ (EBP-SW) at Exeter University.

The sixth-formers, Emily Spry (who picked up two awards at the previous year’s event), Holly Speare, Will Dax and Ryan Arnold exhibited their beautiful A Level products, while Darcy was chosen from hundreds of other possibles to exhibit her ‘Crazy Camel’ game. The Crazy Camel has been developed by Darcy to be an interactive toy as well as a game and assembly kit which aims to develop making skills and creativity while being a really fun game to play with friends. Darcy produced a finished product, instruction manuals and an assembly kit version and presented her product to the judges with passion, enthusiasm and business acumen.

Organisers of the event commented: “The calibre of student work in the South West is breath taking. Our judges were overwhelmed by the quality of what they saw”. After a fantastic morning of exhibiting, the students took part in a science and technology master-class with a focus on rocket science and then the day came to its climax, the award ceremony. Darcy was stunned when she heard her name read out as a winner of the ‘Enterprising Young Devon award’ for the fantastic business enterprise element to her work. Soon after returning to her seat after the ordeal of having photos and handshakes in front of hundreds of onlookers, Darcy was announced as a regional winner of the Technology and Engineering Award and had won a place at the national finals which will take place at the NEC in March.

Yvonne Paddon (Partnership Adviser EBP-SW) said after the results: “I am absolutely delighted that the Crazy Camel won an Enterprising Young Devon award as not only was it innovative and creative, but also excellently presented, showing before and after assembly and the research process involved. I am looking forward to working both with Darcy, supporting her with a local business, and also with the school on a STEM enterprise day.”

Darcy commented: “I’m really excited and shocked to be given a chance to be in the National Big Bang Finals! I wasn’t expecting to win anything and to win two awards was fantastic. It was a great day and was an experience I definitely will not forget.”

As a result, Darcy has won a local business link that will be set up by EBP-SW which will help Darcy to further develop her product. Darcy has also won a free STEM enterprise day for Tavistock College and she has decided that this will focus on Year 7. Darcy will take a leadership role to help maximise its impact. Head of Technology at the college, Pete Keegan, commented: “We are incredibly proud of all the students who exhibited their work this year. It was great to see such talented students being celebrated. Darcy is a true asset to Technology at the college and we are delighted to have her as a role model to inspire others into Design and Technology.”

Big Bang 2015

Students participate in Newquay Greenpower Formula 24 Event for the first time

Tavistock College’s new Greenpower Formula 24 racing team had a fantastic day of racing at Newquay Airport on 18th June. The event involves teams of 11-16 year olds who have to compete in at least one regional heat and finish in the top three to automatically qualify for the International Final held in October at Rockingham Motor Speedway. The event challenges youg people to design racing carts, all using the same, sustainable electric motor.

Tavistock College’s electric endurance race car was solely built by a team of talented Years 8, 9 and 10 students (aged 12-15) as an extracurricular project: Jack Kelly, Jack Kerswill, Erin Bolding, Tom Harrison, Bryce Lovell, Ben Anning and Sebastian Hennessy-Dobbs.
The race track, which was several kilometres long, gave the different teams some fantastic racing experience over two 90 minute endurance races. Cars ranged in design dramatically and throughout the day the students discussed how they would improve their car by shedding weight here and there, changing gear ratios, tweaking aerodynamics and all manner of other engineering decisions.

Pete Keegan, who launched the project at the college, commented: “What was noticeable with our team is it was the students who were tweaking the car’s performance, fixing problems and thinking fast to get issues resolved. I am so proud of their achievement and how they have developed in this last year. They have transformed from a group of kids into young passionate engineers.”

In the first race the students secured an impressive 9th place out of 20 cars. This is a superb achievement for our first time entering a ‘Greenpower’ event. In the second race the students clawed their way up to 8th place and then suffered a broken chain and had to be recovered. Some fast thinking, cool heads and swift spanner work and the team had the car back out to complete a final lap and finish 11th. The students were absolutely beaming after the day’s racing.

“Seeing the variety of cars and engineering involved was awe inspiring. We have been building our car, ‘Mad Max Racing’, for about six months and we have really learnt a great deal in that time. However, the amount we learnt on the day was incredible and we are full of ideas for developing the car further,” said Tom Harrison. Mr Keegan and Mr Moore are going to recruit a new team in the autumn term which will be open for all year 8 and 9 students to apply. This new team will need to fund raise and seek sponsorship in order to raise the necessary funds from the project as the current team did and are still doing in order to keep making these incremental improvements to their car. Special thanks to our sponsors, Tavistock Round Table and the Tavistock Lyons Club for supporting the project from the start.

Product of the Year 2015

Tavistock College’s Technology Faculty hosted its fourth and biggest Product of the Year event on the evening of 7th May. The event, which attracted several hundred parents and visitors to the college, celebrated the skills and achievements of a wealth of students from the technology subjects. Principal Helen Salmon said:
“Product of the year is one of the most wonderful events run by the College. The standard of work just gets better every year. Students are able to showcase their innovative and excellent products across all aspects of design and computing. This really does demonstrate the skills and talents of our students.”

Over 70 students exhibited their work and visitors voted for their favourites in 9 different categories. At the end of the night, after a fashion show, live music and time for visitors to chat to the exhibiting students and make their decisions, the votes were counted and the evening became an awards ceremony. The categories included a wide range of subjects, from product design and resistant materials technology, to textiles, fashion, food tech and computing. Mr Pete Keegan, who hosted the event along with Josh Towl, Year 13, and Darcy Brown, Year 8, said:
“The event is designed to celebrate the outstanding quality of work the students at our college produce. This really is something special and being part of the evening is a huge privilege. I am always delighted to see the students discussing their projects with the public. They are so full of pride and it makes all the hard work seem so worthwhile.”

The college welcomed Simon Andrews, senior lecturer at Falmouth University’s ‘Sustainable Product Design BA course’. The Technology faculty have built a progression partnership with this highly rated degree course and Simon was there to judge the ‘most sustainable design’ award. After discussions with all of the students, Simon announced his winner for this new award as A2 Product Design student Emily Spry. Emily’s contemporary desk lamp was described as “A product that demonstrated a real maturity and attention to detail in her project development work. The final design is well considered in terms of materials and production, but also has an intuitive and playful quality.” Simon went on to say, “I was so impressed by the overall quality of work and the enthusiasm for design expressed by the students. The event clearly demonstrates Tavistock College’s commitment to design and the value they place on it in the curriculum.”

The winners were:

  • Best KS5 Product Design: Emily Spry with a contemporary and innovative angle poise lamp.
  • Best Y10 Resistant Materials Product: Rebecca Banks – Table
  • Best Y11 Resistant Materials Product: Dominic Newton with his innovative collapsible camping table.
  • Best KS4 Textiles / Fashion Product: Kayleigh Rogers with her Alice and Wonderland inspired waistcoat.
  • Best Bake Off Product: Sam Beard with his chocolate and raspberry layer cake.
  • Best KS5 Fashion / Textiles product: Beth O’Boyle with her Monet inspired shift dress
  • Best KS3 Product Design: Georgia Liddle with her nature inspired bird feeder.
  • Best KS3 Textiles / Fashion product: Jemma Ninnis and Evie Ward with their Tie-dyed top and layered skirt inspired by the wind.
  • Most Sustainable Design: Emily Spry with a contemporary and innovative angle poise lamp.
  • Overall Product of the Year 2015: Also Emily Spry with a contemporary and innovative angle poise lamp.


Emily commented: “I am absolutely chuffed with winning these awards, and wasn’t expecting it at all! The evening was a great experience, with so many good projects. I’m very lucky and grateful to have won!”

We would like to thank our very generous sponsors, Towls of Tavistock, The Technology Company and Brigid Foley who donated prizes. For more information about the Technology Faculty, please visit our website or contact the Head of Faculty Pete Keegan at

Tavistock College launches Formula 24 engineering and racing project

Tavistock College’s technology faculty have launched a very exciting new engineering project. IET Formula 24 aims to inspire students into exciting careers in engineering and other STEM subjects. Students will design and build an electric single-seater race car which they will eventually race against other schools regionally and nationally at Goodwood circuit. The project started in November this year when Head of Technology, Mr Pete Keegan, launched the project to all year 8 and 9 students in assemblies. To be selected for the team, students had to apply for a range of specific roles within the team. They had to prove their passion and demonstrate any relevant experience that would make them a suitable candidate.

Mr Keegan said: “We are really trying to give the project a ‘real-world context’ and give students a taste of what applying for a job is actually like. We hope to maintain this as a strong theme throughout the project, giving it a career context. After scrutinising many applications the team were selected. The proud and excited students are Jack Kelly of Year 10 (who will be taking on the role of captain), Jack Kerswill (Year 9), Erin Bolding (Year 8), Tom Harrison (Year 9), Bryce Lovell (Year 9), Ben Anning (Year 9) and Sebastian Hennessay-Dobbs (Year 9).

To start the project, the team needed to get fundraising as the initial start-up cost to build a Formula 24 kit car chassis is just over two thousand pounds. So far the team have sourced over half of this through some generous sponsorship from the College’s Trustees, Tavistock Rotary Club and the Tavistock Lyons club. The team have since been spending every spare moment of every day manufacturing laser-cut reindeers which were sold for Christmas gifts via Southwest Crafts and Brigid Foley in Tavistock, as well as through various craft events locally. We have managed to raise over £2,000 so far. Now the students are being given some additional lessons in Race physics, Computing applications in racing, Maths in racing and Computer Aided Design – to enhance their skills ready for the big project ahead. The students would be delighted to receive any further sponsorship and would welcome any assistance from the community or local industry. Watch this space for further news on this exciting project!

STEM Enterprise Day

Year 10 students from Tavistock College took part in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) enterprise day last Tuesday.

Students formed small property companies which were asked to tender to purchase a prime site on which to build a new development on the outskirts of town. Students worked in groups containing a mixture of skills, allowing them to take on real world roles such as being a marketing director, architect, finance manager and project manager. The success of the teams depended on the appropriate allocation of jobs and sharing of their skill sets.

The students had a strict two and a quarter hour deadline to complete all their tasks on the property development challenge. This included a scale plan of the site, internal architect’s designs, newspaper advert, marketing ideas, tender letter and a series of finance calculations. Students were working under real time pressures and with people they wouldn’t normally work with as a result of the mixed nature of the groups. Another unique aspect of this challenge was the support provided by industry experts. Representatives from Cavanna Homes, The Met Office and the construction industry were all on hand to stimulate thoughts and question students on these real world tasks. Alongside this expert assistance, a group of Tavistock College 6th Form students helped to mentor some of the students.

At the end of the Challenge the 5 teams in each room had to present their work to the industry judges and peers with the winning team from each room going forward to the afternoon’s grand final. Not only did this day build on subject knowledge of Eco homes from Geography, marketing strategies from Business and technical drawing from Graphics, but more importantly it exposed students to a real life challenge. As a result teamwork, communication, time management and leadership skills were all developed – all skills and attributes that are vital to our 21st century learners as we prepare them for a workplace in the real world.

The College would like to thank Ralph James, Lynda Jones, Katie Russell and Chris Richards from the Met Office in Exeter, Martin Cavanna from Cavanna Homes, Gary Nichols from Optimise4 and independent consultant, Nigel Halford, for their support of this event, granting their time and expertise to all of the students involved.

Principal of Tavistock College, Helen Salmon, commented:
‘We were delighted to be working with a range of business partners for this important event. They gave generously of their time to help our young people to develop vital skills such as teamwork, planning, independent research and presentation skills.’

Exeter University CALM trip

Students studying Product Design AS and A Level at Tavistock College enjoyed a visit to Exeter university this term to investigate the emerging technology of 3D printing.

The event was part of a UK Research Council project called ‘Empowering Partnerships, Enabling Engagement’. ‘CALM’ is home to some of the worlds most advanced laser sintering technologies where the boundaries of 3D printing are being pushed with all kinds of exciting applications. Students learnt all about this incredible new technology, and investigated all kinds of samples ranging from 3D printed vertebrae to chain mail cloth printed all in one piece. The development of these materials and applications are happening at such an incredible rate that the horizons for the future of the technology change on a week by week basis.

Students were also given an extensive look at the materials testing facility and learnt a great deal about how modern materials can be tested to breaking point and developed to suit the needs of a particular application. Silvia Berretta, a PhD student who hosted us, commented:

‘It is very inspiring to help the next generation of young engineers.’

We spent the afternoon learning to use some incredible Computer Aided Design software that allows students to apply forces to their virtual model and see how a range of materials would respond to these pressures. AS student Will Dax commented, ‘Exeter University showed me a whole new side of product design, including some really interesting ways to produce products that would have been impossible with previous manufacturing processes.’ In the Technology Faculty we are building many links with industry and universities in order to give our students the best possible experience and most importantly a real word context to their studies.

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