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: 12.12.2018 12:33 - 30.05.2019 12:33

: 07.01.2019 12:13 - 28.06.2019 12:14

The new competition, ‘Navigate To The Line’, involves students in the design of a remote controlled, micro:bit enabled aerostat - a 'lighter than air' craft. 

2018-2019 will be a pilot season for Navigate To The Line, working with a restricted number of schools to develop the challenge and activities. 

The Geographical focus for the the pilot season is Greater Manchester and we are delighted to partner with Amazon Web Services to deliver the experience free to ten teams in the first 25 schools ( A minimum of 2 schools from each of Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, and the cities of Salford and Manchester) Note: 5 additional schools will be selected on a first come first served basis.

School based activities will begin in the Spring term of 2019 and schools expressing interest will be contacted in the new term to discuss how the pilot activities can be integrated into their school plan. 

Why the lighter than air challenge?

Aviation is going through a period of intense innovation with new materials, alternative power sources and autonomous operation all being part of the future for today's young engineers. Sustainability and reducing energy consumption in work and transport are also major technology and societal themes.  'Drones' are also becoming more popular devices in schools but how do they actually work? How does pressing a button or lever in one place, change how something moves somewhere else?  It is not enough to be able to operate machines, young people need to know how they work.

The competition is intended to bring students' computing, science and design & technology skills together to bear on a futuristic challenge and engage and encourage them, through active participation in a national competition, to consider STEM subjects and study/career pathways.

How will the pilot season run?

Registrations of interest can be made with The Learning Partnership to take part in the pilot.

A small scale, pre-pilot phase will test and establish the practical resources and clarify key design and coding challenges for teams.

A larger scale pilot phase will develop the competition and aerial arena elements.

A first season regional or national competitiion will be arranged, if possible and appropriate.

All schools involved in the pilot will be asked to provide feedback and ideas to help develop the competition and the quality and depth of the teaching and learning components.  

NOTE: We cannot guarantee that all schools requesting to take part in the pilot season will be able to be supported.

Who is the Pilot competition for?

The competition is open to students in Year 8 in Greater Manchester.

How does the competition work?

Using two 3 foot/900mm helium balloons on a spar which can lift approx. 300g of mass, teams of 6 to 8 students must develop their own design approaches to mount up to four small electric drone motors to enable their lighter than air craft to steer and change altitude. Using microbit radio communications and a competition PCB that enables multiple drone motors and servos to be controlled by simple code blocks, students must tackle a series of challenges at an in-school competition to accrue points to progress towards regional and national finals.

The competition activities can be carried out in a school sports hall in an arena about the size of a badminton court.

Activities and Challenges include:
•    Air Race – using the rules laid down by the FIA for drone racing, teams must compete to complete three laps of a figure of eight race course in the fastest time.
•    Target Lander – teams must land and take off their craft closest to the centre of ten targets on the ground in the shortest possible time  
•    Assault Course – over and under bars between badminton net posts and through hoops for points – it’s just like a dog agility show but in slow motion!
•    Air Battle – with a felt tip pen mounted in front and an A4 piece of paper suspended from the back, the first craft to mark their opponent’s paper, wins!

Schools that progress to a regional final level will be presented new ‘challenges of the day’ which they must solve within 3 hours. This may involve integrating sensors or making the craft perform a series of autonomous or semi-autonomous tasks.

Supporting Curriculum/Lesson ideas:

•    “Archimedes principle” – designing airships – ‘more boat than plane’
•    “Vectored thrust” – manoeuvring a lighter than air craft by directing forces
•    “Mass & lift” – maximising payloads and aerodynamic performance
•    “Programming for control” – stability, autonomy vs manual 
•    “Navigation & dealing with the wind” –  tip to tail vectors, etc.
•    “Alternatives” – costs of fossil fuel based transport and sustainable futures
•    “The science of gases” -  volume, density, noble gases, the periodic table, where does helium come from?

How do I sign up?

If you already have a Dendrite,me account linked to your school, click the "Send Registration Request' option below to express your interest in taking part.

If you do not have a account:

1) Register with Dendrite (sign up options at the top) and choose your school (and optionally ages/subjects taught) from the list of options when setting up your account. Use your school email address as this is used to help verify users are genuine schools users.

2) Sign in and come back to this page and click the 'Send Registration Request' to register your school as interested in taking part.


Title Time constraints Geolocation Participants
Qualifying School Flight 07.01.2019 12:28
01.04.2019 12:28
Manchester 22
Regional Finals Flight 07.04.2019 12:28
10.05.2019 12:28
Manchester 0
Greater Manchester Finals Flight 30.05.2019 12:28
28.06.2019 12:28
Manchester 0