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Points Challenge

: 01.07.2019 08:53 - 30.09.2019 11:23

: 02.09.2019 09:19 - 24.07.2020 09:20

: Paid by school

The new challenge, ‘Navigate To The Line’, involves students, in teams of 6 to 8, in the design of a remote controlled, micro:bit enabled aerostat - a 'lighter than air' craft. 

2019-2020 will be the first season for Navigate To The Line, working with a restricted number of schools on a class by class basis and paid for by the school. 

The goal of TLP is to recruit sponsorship for schools to run programmes on a whole year group basis, however with the condensed pilot programme in Manchester this year we have, as yet not recruited sponsors. We will continue to try and achieve this, but for schools keen to engage in season 1, a class pack to support 5 teams of 8 students taking part will be offered at a season one price of £499 (plus Gas Bottle Hire & Gas - cost to be confirmed).

The Geographical focus for the first season is the United Kingdom and we are delighted to partner with Amazon Web Services who are working with us to recruit sponsors for the programme from their partner network. 

Any schools that sign up to season one and purchase their resources for Navigate to the Line, will be the first to be offered sponsorship from Partners as and when they are recruited.

School based activities will begin after half term in the Autumn term 2019 following the distribution of class packs to schools at the end of the registration period in September 2019. 

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 first season run?

Registration runs until the 30th September 2019 and schools register by clicking the register my school button below.

Schools go to the shop and purchase their class kit.

  • Qualifying events are run in schools before the end of the Easter term.
  • Regional finals will take place at the Regional Big Bang or similar events nationally during the summer term, dates to be published at the start of September 2019.
  • The National Finals will be held at the end of the summer term 2020 (Date and location TBC).

Who is the challenge for?

The challenge is open to students in Year 8 in the UK.

How does the challenge 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 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 02.09.2019 09:11
20.03.2020 09:12
United Kingdom 20
Regional Finals Flight 02.03.2020 09:13
30.06.2020 09:14
United Kingdom 0
United Kingdom Finals Flight 01.07.2020 09:16
24.07.2020 09:17
United Kingdom 0