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Stagecraft and witchcraft as boys get to grips with Macbeth

Year 9 pupils took a trip back in time to the dark days of Shakespeare’s Macbeth at a special Enrichment Day that offered them the chance to engage dramatically and creatively with the ‘Scottish play’.

Featuring a series of interactive workshops, the day brought to life Shakespeare’s brooding and exciting tragedy, which most of Year 9 had studied – from a purely textual point of view – earlier in the year.

Head of English Robert Hyland said: “Shakespeare was not written to be studied, but to be performed; therefore, an engagement with Macbeth would be incomplete without some understanding of the stagecraft and dramatic opportunities that this approach to the text provides, away from the minutiae of language analysis.”

Pupil Mahmudur Rahman enjoyed the day and said it helped him understand the play better: “The thing I like about drama is that you can play another person’s life – it’s a distraction from normal life and you can live in another person’s shoes. You can explore any dimension in history, going back centuries before, which I find fascinating.”

Mahmudur’s fellow Underne House member, Varun Maheswaran, said: “It was a fun day. When we played out the Macbeth scenes, it was enjoyable to explore the play in an interactive way.”

Organised by Mr Hyland, the all-day event took place in a classroom and the Main Hall. It was led by experienced drama professionals Gavin Malloy and Lauren Steadman, from RM Drama, QE’s external drama partner.

The workshops focused on:

  • Key characters – such as the relationship between Macbeth himself and Lady Macbeth
  • Key scenes – looking at the opening with the three witches
  • Key themes – including ambition, guilt, the supernatural and violence.

The techniques explored included the deployment of ‘freeze-frame’ tableaux, the use of dialogue and improvisation, and the development of soundscapes (where atmosphere is created by the use of collective sound).

With drama not being part of the normal classroom curriculum at QE, the day was especially significant for those Year 9 pupils who were not involved in the School Play, Lord of the Flies, at Easter nor in QE’s contribution to the Shakespeare Schools Festival in the autumn, Mr Hyland said. “While a good number of students have been involved in school productions, many other will not have had exposure to such an innovative approach to a Shakespearean text. It was really refreshing to watch boys perform so ably and creatively, and engage with Shakespeare in a completely different way. For many, this was an opportunity to demonstrate a set of talents that might have gone unnoticed in the classroom.

“The team from RM Drama did a fantastic job at getting our students active and involved – there was a real sense of energy and purpose as the day developed.”

Starring roles: alumni aim to inspire current pupils with a love for space

Five veterans of QE’s past national and international successes in space design competitions returned to Barnet to help stage an inter-school Galactic Challenge.

Aadil Kara (OE 2010–2017), who has just completed the second year of a Physics degree at Imperial College, is currently Chair of the Galactic Challenge (GC) – a regional competition for younger pupils and a sister competition to the UK Space Design Competition (UKSDC). In his final year at QE, Aadil progressed from the UKSDC to the International Space Settlement Design Competition, hosted by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Aadil, worked with QE’s Head of Physics, Jonathan Brooke, to help the School host a Galactic Challenge for secondary schools in London.

“Old Elizabethans are currently playing a key role in the organisation of both the UKSDC and the GC,” said Mr Brooke. “I’m hugely impressed by their willingness to give up their time to support these competitions which give children from schools across the country experience of working in large teams under a tight deadline – a taste of the challenges associated with professional life that are difficult to replicate in the classroom.”

Helping Aadil and Mr Brooke were Aadil’s QE contemporaries and former UKSDC co-competitors, Neelesh Ravichandran, Harikesan Baskaran and Sam Bayney, as well as David Dubinksy, who attended QE from 2012–2016. Neelesh, Harikesan and Sam all served as Coordinators on the day, while David, who, like Aadil, reached the international stages of UKSDC in his year, was the volunteer CEO for one of the competing teams, or ‘companies’.

The Galactic Challenge is a space industry simulation challenge for students aged 10-14. Children design a settlement in space within just a few hours, competing against other teams, as well as the clock.

At QE, in addition to the School’s own Year 7 company, named Columbus Aviation, there were entries from: Dame Alice Owen’s School; The Charter School, North Dulwich; The Henrietta Barnett School and The Latymer School.

Aadil said: “We run GC competitions throughout the country firstly to stimulate students’ interests in STEM from the early ages of secondary education, and secondly to help them develop ‘soft skills’, including team-working and interpersonal skills. Having first participated in the process in the Sixth Form, it was a pleasure to be able to bring the competition back to the School.”

The ‘companies’ worked to complete a task set by the fictional Foundation Society. In the morning, they were given a Request for Proposal (RFP) co-written by Aadil that reflects a typical design brief in the space engineering industry; they then spent the day producing designs in response, assisted by a volunteer ‘CEO’ for each company.

The scenario involved them jumping forward to 2069, coinciding with the celebration of the centenary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Students produced designs for Armstrong, the first holiday resort on the moon, named in honour of Neil Armstrong, famously the first person to step on to its surface in 1969.

The Armstrong resort had to include a commemorative area around the Apollo 11 landing site and to host trips from tourists visiting from other settlements around Earth’s orbit. Competitors also had to find a way to make the lower half of the Apollo 11 Lunar Model (which remains on the moon’s surface) the centrepiece of a tourist attraction, whilst considering how to conserve the site.

The companies’ design proposals considered almost all aspects of the design of a futuristic space settlement, from the activities offered to tourists to the methods of power generation.

At the end of the day, the companies presented their work in ten minutes to an audience of parents, their peers, and a judging panel. In the presentations, students suggested ideas including: settlements made out of recycled materials; rearing rabbits on the moon, and Earthrise viewing platforms, with the home QE team suggesting lunar bungee-jumping. The winning team was a combined company – Astrodyne Delta – drawn from Dame Alice Owen’s School and The Charter School, North Dulwich.

Afterwards, Neelesh, who has come to the end of his second year at Imperial, where he is reading Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: “Volunteering at UKSDC is a truly rewarding experience. The enthusiasm, curiosity and ingenuity of the participants is awe-inspiring and has served to remind me of why I study engineering. Both these competitions are a test of character and imagination, for volunteers and participants alike.”

Harikesan has finished the second year of a Mechanical Engineering/Computational Engineering and Design at Southampton. He starts a placement with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars this month. “Volunteering at the UKSDC and GC competitions provides an invaluable opportunity to encourage students to see STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics] in its true colours.”

David, who has just finished the third year of an Aeronautical Engineering degree at Durham University, still recalls the inspiration he drew from the UKSDC himself: “Taking part in the competition sparked a strong obsession with space; I was drawn by the utopian, fantastical designs of future space settlements and enjoyed imagining life in such a future. I opened a space society at QE, which some OEs may remember, and attended the annual Student Space Conference in Year 12, a fantastic event organised by the same parent organisation as the Galactic Challenge, the UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UK SEDS). At Durham, I’ve also joined the university’s SEDS branch where we had some great networking with brave local startups and have helped organise trips to the Student Space Conference. My first internship was in a small electronics company, as it was technically in the space sector.”

Although the internship proved to be a disappointing experience, during his time there he was able to re-focus on what he really wanted – “to pursue unprecedented and utopian technology design” – which led him into the field he is currently targeting, namely “minimal-fuel, lighter-than-air travel, in other words engineering modern blimps and airships!” It is, reflects David, “all a long chain of events from saying ‘yes’ to my friend asking me if I wanted to fill an empty space in the first QE UKSDC team, which I turned down at first because I was nervous!”

Sam has finished the second year of a Medicine degree at Southampton. He said: “It’s good to see kids taking an interest in these types of projects at this age – it develops skills they will need to solve the global problems facing us in the near future.”

Whodunnit? Solving a staff room murder most foul

Year 8 boys battled it out in their Houses to solve the mock murder of one of their teachers.

After the gruesome discovery of Extra-curricular Enrichment Tutor Keith Bugler’s lifeless body, House teams spent a morning of QE’s Enrichment Week combing through clues in a range of activities that involved skills drawn from across the curriculum.

During the afternoon, each team presented a mock trial to make their case, stating which of the teacher suspects they believed was the guilty party.

The winning team was Broughton, with Leicester House the runners-up.

Head of Extra-curricular Enrichment Rebecca Grundy, who is a Languages teacher, had organised the day jointly with Dr Bugler, who was a Chemistry teacher before his untimely demise.

“The boys quickly turned detective and were soon hard at work solving clues, before bringing all their evidence together for the trial that was held after lunch.

“It was an absorbing day, and my congratulations go to the winning team,” said Miss Grundy.

The clue-solving activities involved:

  • Fingerprint analysis
  • Handwriting analysis
  • Studying newspaper articles
  • Examining hair samples with microscopes
  • Chromatography.
Champions! Broughton are leading House for 2018–19

Broughton have been crowned this year’s top House at Queen Elizabeth’s School, following intense competition in fields as diverse as architecture and dodgeball.

A strong performance at Sports Day helped Broughton overtake Pearce to claim overall victory as the leader of QE’s six houses – a victory announced to great excitement at the end-of-year House Assembly.

Broughton’s House Captain, Saifullah Shah, and Deputy House Captain, Jamie Watkin-Rees, both of Year 12, were duly presented with the coveted House Cup by Headmaster Neil Enright.

Mr Enright said afterwards: “It has been another year of outstanding endeavour among the Houses, which play such an important role in fostering teamwork and friendship. My sincere congratulations go to all Broughton boys on their hard-won victory.”

During the assembly, Year 12’s Kieran Dhrona and Rishi Shah gave a presentation on the extensive fund-raising that takes place during the year in support of various charities as well as QE’s long-running Sai School Appeal, which aims to help the Sri Sathya Sai English Medium School in Kerala, India.

QE’s overall charity this year was the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, while there were also Christmas collections of food for the Chipping Barnet Foodbank and of clothing for a charity helping some of the 168,000 people homeless people in London.

Among the charity events staged were an inter-House dodgeball tournament run by Broughton and Harrisons’ for Years 7–9, which raised £280. Leicester and Pearce ran an interactive quiz for Years 7–10, raising £168. And Stapylton and Underne organised a guess-the-teacher baby photo competition, raising £87.70.

For the Sai School Appeal, a FIFA Tournament saw staff and pupils battle it out, games controllers in hand, in what was perhaps the most popular charity event of the year. One notable match included that between the Headmaster and the 2019 School Captain, Bhiramah Rammanohar.

The tournament raised £120.60, while a swimathon raised £609.65 and a guess-the-number-of-sweets-in-the-jar challenge at the Founder’s Day Fete brought in £62.

The House competitions reported on during the assembly included the:

  • Year 7 House afternoon won by Stapylton
  • In the Scoop news contest for Year 8 won by Pearce
  • Languages competition, in which boys were challenged to design a poster about an influential linguist or speaker of German. French or Latin
  • Architectural Enrichment Competition, won by Harrisons’
  • QIQE quiz, won by Broughton in a tough final against Stapylton.

The assembly also reviewed other activities of the year.

For drama, as well as looking back at the performances at the Shakespeare Schools Festival and at the School Play, Lord of the Flies, the presentation revealed the names of boys who have successfully auditioned for roles in next term’s Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice.

Hundreds of boys have taken part in musical extra-curricular activities during the year. There are currently more than 20 ensembles, many of them pupil-led, involving 150 singers and nearly 200 instrumentalists. The 35 winners of Music colours from across the year groups were announced.

The assembly celebrated the winners of the separate QE chess championships for Year 7 and for Years 8-11, as well as those who performed strongly in the UK Chess Challenge. Junior, intermediate and senior chess colours were presented.

A report on the Duke of Edinburgh Award revealed that 87 Year 11 boys completed their bronze awards. Twenty-six Year 12s finished their silver awards, while 11 Year 13s completed D of E at gold level.

In sport, the assembly covered the following highlights:

  • Cricket: The Year 8 team reached the quarter-finals of the National Cup, where they lost on the last ball
  • Rugby: The U16s won the Hertfordshire plate; several boys gained county honours and a successful tour to Holland took place
  • Eton fives: Record levels of participation at QE brought encouraging successes at the sport’s national finals
  • Athletics: Combined Year 7 & 8 and 9 & 10 teams reached regional finals, and stand-out individual performances were listed
  • Water polo: Both the seniors and Year 10 reached their respective national cup plate finals.

‘Teams of the year’, comprising selections from across the year groups, were announced for cricket and rugby.

Spoken like a champion: sixth-formers win oral presentation prize in international technology competition

A QE team impressed the judges with their presentation skills as they explained how their glider drone design could help save black rhinoceroses from extinction.

Judges at the live finals of the International STEM Youth Innovation Competition at the Royal Air Force Museum in Colindale, London, unanimously agreed that QE’s Year 12 Rhinodrive team should win the Oral Presentation Award.

The competition involved several elements, from the judging of presentations conducted by industry and conservation experts, to the actual flying of a drone, where the challenge facing the teams was to survey 15 species in their simulated natural habitat.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan said: “It had been a long journey requiring great dedication for our boys to even reach the international finals, so they were exhilarated to be there, even though the standard of competition was very tough indeed.”

“The boys performed admirably, using the drone technology to spot all but one animal on their survey – a pesky snake camouflaged into a tree branch!”

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) competition, run by the British International Education Association (BIEA), drew entries from schools in countries including China, the United States, Macau, Poland and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Its theme was Fighting Extinction Using Drone Technology.

The team comprised Deeps Gandhi, Aryan Jain, Simon Sherriff, Ben Domb and Tarun Bhaskaran. They secured their place in the international finals partly because they opted to design and build their own drone using parts which they 3D-printed themselves, rather than buying an off-the-shelf, proprietary machine, as many other teams did. “This set them in an élite group, along with a gifted and talented academy team from Palo Alto, California,” said Mr Noonan.

Even more impressively, they designed and built the drone while adhering very strictly to their £100 allocated budget, again, unlike many of the other teams.

However, what had been an advantage earlier in the competition would prove to be a challenge in the finals, as the demonstration flight at the start of the day’s competition used the very same drone that many of the teams were using, thus giving QE’s competitors the opportunity to pick up tips by observing the trial flight. The QE team nevertheless performed well, Mr Noonan stated.

“After the judges visited, the boys were in a confident mood that the presentation of their ideas and professional layout of their resources had set them in good stead.” That confidence proved justified when the team’s name was one of the first to be read out as the presentations began.

And although naturally disappointed to miss out on the top prize of £5,000, there were no real hard feelings, as Mr Noonan explained: “A Bosnian team won this accolade for an incredible performance, despite challenges of funding and lack of facilities. The boys felt this was well deserved, and simply revelled in what had been a great experience.”

Team member Deeps said: “Participating in this competition has not only allowed us to think about our ability to impact global issues such as conservation through STEM, but has also taught us key skills such as time management, teamwork and communication.”

After the awards ceremony, the boys headed to Waterloo Pier to board the London Belle barge and then spent an enjoyable evening on the Thames in the company of the judges and other participants.

Laying down the law

After a session spent getting to grips with the intricacies of the legislative process, Year 9 boys worked together to devise campaigns aimed at amending fictional Parliamentary bills.

As part of their Humanities Enrichment Day, the pupils learned about how legislation is formed and then used campaigning tools old and new to lobby for change, from writing letters to an MP to creating an internet meme and composing tweets.

Head of Geography Emily Parry said: “The aim of the session was to provide students with an understanding of how laws are made and how they and the wider public can influence this process.”

After initial talks, the boys took the opportunity to ask questions and then split into groups to design their lobbying activities, with social media campaigning to the fore.

Head of Academic Enrichment Nisha Mayer said: “The boys got into the competitive spirit of the day and made some very creative campaigns.”

The fictional bills about which they campaigned were:

  • Abortion Bill, with abortions to be made illegal in all circumstances
  • International Aid Bill, increasing the UK’s international aid budget from 0.7% of GDP to 2%
  • Nuclear Power Bill, under which the UK’s energy supply will be 100% nuclear by 2040
  • School Uniform Bill, prohibiting gender-specific school uniforms
  • Voting Age Bill, lowering the age of voting in UK parliamentary elections to 14
  • Wage Cap Bill, enforcing limits so that the highest earner within a company can only earn a maximum of ten times the lowest earner.
Learning more from a master

Year 8 boys had the chance to see another side of the work of modernist artist Henry Moore on a trip to his former studio and gardens.

Not only did the Art trip give the pupils an opportunity to experience his spectacular outdoor sculptures in the beautiful grounds near Much Hadham, but they were also able to see the largest exhibition of his drawings in more than 40 years.

Art teacher Jillian McAteer said: “It was a unique opportunity for the boys not only to experience his ambitious sculptures, but also to closely examine the drawings that underpinned the practice of one of the most influential modernist British artists.”

Yorkshireman Henry Moore (1898–1986) settled in the Hertfordshire hamlet of Perry Green during the Second World War; it remained his home and workplace for the rest of his life. The Henry Moore Foundation Studios and Gardens showcase his sculptures in woodlands and gardens originally created there by Moore’s wife, Irina.

“The foundation displays a fantastic collection of his sculptural work. The students were taken on a tour of the grounds by informative guides who described the inspiration and construction behind these iconic pieces,” said Mrs McAteer.

She added that the boys had been learning in class about biomorphism – art with an organic appearance or form – through clay sculpture, ink and drawing. “The grand organic shapes in Moore’s work are a fantastic example of where this artistic exploration might lead.”

One of the Year 8 boys, Sai Sivakumar, said the visit had given him clear insight into Moore’s creative processes, including his “every thought, inspiration and action”. Sai added: “Some of the many things we learned at the foundation included how to use different materials in Art, such as plaster, how to draw inspiration from real life, and the importance of practice.”

The trip began with a tour of Moore’s larger sculptures, before the group ventured inside his numerous workshops to look at his smaller, finer work. Here, said Sai, they picked up tips for improving their own sculpting, such as incorporating the appearance of bones and using textures inspired by nature, such as bark.

Next, the boys visited the current exhibition, entitled Henry Moore Drawings: The Art of Seeing. “We could see his style and skill evolving over time as he learned more and more.” The exhibition runs until 27th October this year.

After lunch, the boys drew their own pieces, taking from everything they had learned there to create a Henry Moore-style drawing.

Waxing lyrical: debaters impress at European Youth Parliament national finals

From starting a speech in Shakespearean-style verse to drawing in an audience with intense emotion, QE’s debaters expertly rang the rhetorical changes when they competed at the European Youth Parliament’s National Session.

Having won their places with a barnstorming performance at the South East Regional Session – the third consecutive year in which QE has progressed – the Year 12 team were well-prepared for the four-day national event at Liverpool Hope University, for which the theme was Tomorrow’s Europe: Making every voice heard.

They worked in committees with pupils from other schools, rather than in their own team. After the first day’s team-building activities, there was a full day of committee work in which they collaborated to find a solution to a topical problem, presented as a written resolution. In the final two days, the resolutions were debated in the General Assembly, where the delegates gave three-minute ‘defence’, ‘attack’ and ‘summation’ speeches, but could also debate from the floor.

Academic Enrichment Tutor Helen Davies said: “All our students made well-researched and thoughtful points throughout the session that were relevant and brought new ideas to the forum – a very professional and efficient approach to the weekend’s activities.”

The team also broke new ground for QE, at least over recent years, by taking part in the session’s Saturday-night ‘Euroconcert’. “Introduced by the organisers as ‘the UK’s hottest new boy band, the whole team gave an enthusiastic and tuneful performance of the Backstreet Boys’ I want it that way. Frontman Saifullah Shah stole the show and really engaged the audience!”

Earlier that day, in the more sober setting of the General Session’s debate involving the Committee on Legal Affairs, Saifullah had had his hearers equally entranced. He made a closing (‘summation’) speech on a motion exploring how the EU could ‘ensure that the internet remains a place where marginalised communities and different ideas can continue to prosper, while keeping it a safe space for all’. And he began with a paraphrase of Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy: “Freedom of speech, or protection, that is the question: whether ’tis nobler by Law to suffer the slings and arrows of online harassment, or to take arms against a sea of hate speech and by opposing end it.” It was, said Miss Davies, “received very well by the audience”.

In the session devoted to the first of the two Committees on Employment and Social Affairs (‘EMPL1’), delegates debated the isolation of the elderly. Deeps Gandhi was among a committee that submitted a motion which, inter alia, urged EU member states to appoint a minister for loneliness and subsidise care for the elderly by providing means-tested financial aid to families.

In EMPL2’s session, which was debating the EU’s response to the poor employment standards suffered by textile workers internationally, Aryan Jain gave the opening defence address. “It was a compelling and emotional speech, which also showed deep understanding of the topic. Aryan urged the delegates to ‘uphold the moral fabric of the European Union’ by preventing the exploitation of foreign workers,” said Miss Davies.

Other highlights of the debates included clear, well-researched summaries of complex issues by Hanif Gofur, a well-presented and well-written speech from Mehul Shah, and arguments from Viraj Mehta supporting the use of an ‘app’ to increase popular engagement with politics (on a motion before the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection exploring how the EU could make use of IT to further the inclusion of citizens in the decision-making process, given growing mistrust in EU institutions).

In addition to the Euroconcert, which had a theme of Glitter and gold, social activities included the opportunity to sample food from more than a dozen different countries and a ceilidh (Scottish folk dance), which the boys also enjoyed, Miss Davies reported.

Subsequently, Saifullah Shah and Mehul Shah learned that they had been individually selected for the International Round of the European Youth Parliament, which takes place later in the year, following their excellent performance.

Not just about the money: QE boys’ ethical approach and ‘out-of-the-box thinking’ wins trio of prizes in top accountancy competition

At this year’s final of a prestigious national business and accountancy competition, a QE Sixth Form team picked up prizes for teamwork, integrity and commercial acumen.

Karanvir Singh Kumar, Yash Shah, Harshil Shah and Manas Madan competed alongside 47 other school teams at the final of the BASE competition run by ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) in Birmingham.

The competition provides school and college students with a taste of what working in the profession is really like, requiring them to approach business decisions as if they were Chartered Accountants.

The boys enjoyed a three-course dinner and overnight stay at the Hilton Hotel. But next the work began: after an early breakfast, the team received their briefing information at 9.00am and then had only two hours in which to make their decisions and prepare their final presentation for the judges.

The QE boys’ challenge was to choose which of three options would be of most benefit to Ghanaian villages: to invest in equipment for farming the cassava root vegetable, in a warehouse or in solar panels.

Team leader Karanvir said: “We had to consider how we would finance the venture and which sponsor we would choose. Throughout our analysis we also had to consider ethics and demonstrate integrity – key qualities of Chartered Accountants.”

“We had a stressful two hours to prepare our presentation. First, we made sense of the case studies. Then we began to write our scripts and made our PowerPoint presentation. We chose to recommend investment in solar panels because of its potential to transform the lives of the local population and to enhance the socio-economic development of the country.”

After the two hours were up, the 48 teams were split into smaller groups of 5-6 teams to present to the judges.

Although they QE did not win the overall title, they did take the trio of additional prizes.

“The experience stretched our abilities to the maximum and tested our skills like no other challenge we have faced before,” said Karanvir. “The time pressure was especially overwhelming from the onset. I’m extremely proud of what we achieved as a team, and the hard work and dedication paid off. This was particularly so when we were awarded the prize for Business & Commercial Acumen, which was given to us for our out-of-the box thinking and awareness of real-world events.”

High-flying drone team wins place in final of international competition

A QE Sixth Form team competes this week in the finals of a new international STEM education competition after impressing judges with their plans to use technology in the struggle to protect endangered animals.

They will be up against teams from all over the world competing to show how drones could be deployed to conserve species threatened with extinction.

The boys brought in advanced Mathematics and used 3D printing and complex electronics in developing their entry proposal and making their own glider drone.

The finals of the International STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Youth Innovation Competition are being held at the Royal Air Force Museum, in London.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan said: “I am proud of the team and of the hard work they have put into this competition. From the initial selection of animal species to the creation of the report and to the development of the UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] according to their designs, it was all the result of the team’s own little-by-little exploration and progression.”

The competition is organised by the British International Education Association (BIEA). Run for the first time last year, it was open only to British pupils, attracting entries from more than 2,000 schools. This year, it has been opened up to schools from around the world.

The 2019 theme is Fighting extinction using drone technology. There is a first prize of £5,000 for the team with the highest overall score.

QE’s team, who are all from Year 12, are in the 15-17 year-old age category. The team comprises: Tarun Bhaskaran, Ben Domb, Deeps Gandhi, Aryan Jain and Simon Sherriff.

The team initially drew up a long list of endangered animals and explored the role drones could play in protecting them. As a result of these discussions, they decided to develop glider drones.

For their choice of subject, they wanted an animal with a large distribution area, so picked the black rhinoceros. Further research followed, as a result of which the team embraced military surveillance techniques to monitor black rhino populations effectively, while also using a complex equation to calculate the appropriate pixel resolution for the final design.

They decided to build the required drone themselves. This meant they could show off their ideas to best effect, but naturally made the process more challenging.

To meet this challenge, the team divided themselves into three sections and worked separately before coming together to provide the finished entry. One group was responsible for electronics, another for the video and a third for the fuselage. The electronics group focused on providing the control system and system compatibility; the video group made the video submission, wrote scripts, arranged 3D printing and coordinated the budget, and the fuselage group designed the chassis and structure of the drone.

The competition’s final deadline coincided with School examinations. This left the boys with some tricky time-management issues, which they resolved by drawing up a detailed division of work, all carefully scheduled outside of examination study time. The 14-hour days paid off when they duly submitted the report on time and then heard that they were among the finalists.