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Students link across continents for F1 in Schools World Finals 31 Aug 2011

Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes GP Team Principal with the F1 in Schools champions.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Preparations, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Thursday, 23 September 2010 F1 in Schools World Finals, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore, 22 September 2010. © F1 in Schools F1 in Schools car.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Preparations, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Thursday, 23 September 2010 Bernie Ecclestone (GBR) CEO Formula One Group (FOM) presents the F1 in Schools trophy.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Preparations, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Thursday, 23 September 2010 Andrew Denford (GBR) Founder and Chairman F1 in Schools.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 31 July 2011

Some of the students competing at the upcoming F1 in Schools World Finals 2011 will meet other team members for the first time when they arrive at the event in Malaysia next month. A unique feature of F1 in Schools, a global educational initiative, is the opportunity for students to join with overseas counterparts to compete together as a collaboration team at the World Finals. Runner-up teams in each countries’ National Finals are invited to join together to form a team, communicating by virtual technologies such as web and video conferencing, as well as social network sites and email.

Eight collaborations have been working towards the World Finals with teams including Australia and Singapore, Singapore and Canada, Malaysia and Ireland, Canada and England, Australia and New Zealand, the UAE and Malaysia, South Africa and Kenya, and Germany and the USA.

The World Finals 2011 features the first tri-collaboration team competing internationally, with Triumph Racing attending the Malaysian event. Triumph Racing consists of six students, two from each country. This unique collaboration across three continents has England providing their expertise in design while Canada supplies manufacturing skills and Singapore contributes the marketing and sponsorship experience.

F1 in Schools challenges students to design, develop, manufacture and race a scale-model Formula One car of the future, with the initiative taking place in 34 countries. Each of these hold national finals and winners go on to compete at the World Finals, along with the collaboration teams. For the national winners the pursuit of the world crown takes many hours of working together as a team in school, after school and during holidays to perfect their presentation, further develop their car and test it in readiness for the World Finals. For the collaboration teams this process is much more complicated and it is testament to the resourcefulness and commitment of students from different time zones, cultures and education systems that they overcome additional challenges to create their unique machines.

Team Focus from Malaysia and Ireland say of competing together this year: “Even though we are at opposite ends of the globe we communicate every day. We have a great bond between both countries and have all become really good friends. We talk about F1 and our own lives as we are sharing our hobbies and interests. We are really looking forward to meeting up at the World Finals and will be sad when our time together comes to an end. We also love exchanging our successes, and hope we can build a strong team for this year's finals!”

Kelly Ashbridge, a team member of Synergy, a Malaysia-England collaboration in 2009, said of being in the English ‘half’ of the team: “It was an eye-opening experience for me. I learned so much from doing this, not just the obvious ones of meeting up virtually when your team mates are seven hours ahead of you, but finding out about the way of life of different cultures. Our Malaysian team mates had Ramadan during the World Finals, which I found quite strange and at the beginning I felt uncomfortable eating in front of them when they couldn’t eat anything.

“By the time of the World Finals we had become friends as well as team mates and it was great to finally meet them. We have kept in touch ever since and I love catching up with all their news and understanding more about living and studying in Malaysia. I’m very lucky to be going to Malaysia for the World Finals as an ‘Alumni Volunteer’ and I hope to meet up with my Synergy team mates while I am there.”

Founder and Chairman of F1 in Schools, Andrew Denford, says of teams linking together for the World Finals: “Every year we have watched team members of the collaboration teams meeting for the first time and it is always a very emotional occasion. These students have never met until a couple of days before a major competition, yet their camaraderie and friendship is well established. Their learning experience from the F1 in Schools World Finals is not just within the educational context; the life skills they will take away are just as valuable. Over the past seven years an individual country has won the World Champions title, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see a collaboration team taking the crown as the standard of these entries is just as high, despite the additional challenges faced by these teams.”

The F1 in Schools World Finals 2011 take place at the Doubletree by Hilton in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from September 19-21.

For more information on F1 in Schools, see www.f1inschools.com.