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Forces in motion

The Rivers Boxcar Rally, at the legendary Shelsley Walsh hill climb, was one of the most spectacular partnership events of the school calendar.

Published: 8 August 2022

Earlier this month, Year 6 children from 12 schools in The Rivers CofE Academy Trust – part of the established collaboration strand of the Ogden School Partnerships programme – joined together to showcase their engineering, design and driving skills as they competed to see whose boxcar was the best.

As the schools set up in the pit stations, there was a buzz of excitement across the Shelsley Walsh paddock. One child from Cranham Primary School commenting: “This is going to be fun. I’m looking forward to this”. Children could be seen eyeing up the competition, trying to guess which car was going to perform the best and which team had the best theme!

a group photo featuring a group of children in homemade boxcars

Boxcars ready to race, with Academy CEO Kate Brunt cheering them on!

Eighteen teams produced a boxcar to race on the day. Each team had been split into smaller groups to focus on mechanism, structure and costume, with one group responsible for food tech, ensuring the groups were fed. Boxcar themes ranged from pirates and Jurassic Park to Hogwarts and space, with all pupils from Heronswood Primary and Pre School in Kidderminster, dressing in wartime attire. They even had Winston Churchill preparing ration inspired team lunches.

The day began with Stephen Crake and Sam Sergeant, engineering representatives from Worcester Bosch checking the brakes, structure and mechanism of each car to see if it was fit to compete. Both had experience of making karts when they were younger and explained that kart making is one of the challenges at Worcester Bosch team development days. Stephen and Sam were impressed by the standard of the cars, stating “they were all fantastic”, with their early favourite being Northwick Manor’s ‘Back to the Future’ car due to the more complicated mechanism. Sam and Stephen ended up staying to watch the driving challenges in the afternoon. Sam commented “We have had a cracking day. We were only supposed to stay until 12 but it has been fantastic.”

Before the pupils were let loose on the Boxcar Rally track, Rivers CEO Mrs Kate Brunt, gave the course a test run! It was hilarious and set the tone for the day, full of humour, fearlessness and gusto.

After a safety briefing, the first set of drivers took to the track for a steering challenge, to see if they could complete the course without hitting any cones. The final challenge was to control the boxcar down the hill and stop in the grid at the end.

With many of the top-heavy boxcars toppling over during the steering and accuracy challenge, event organiser and Head at North Worcester Primary Academy, Mrs Calvert, said “I think we have learnt a few lessons for next year – lower and wider… repeat after me… lower and wider. ”The crowd of children were very supportive of each other, cheering and encouraging every driver who came down the track.

The aim of the trust-wide boxcar rally was to bring children together in a fun way and let them take responsibility for running a project. The event gave pupils the opportunity to revisit, explore and purposefully apply what they have learnt about physics, design and technology over the past six years. ​Children also gained valuable skills such as team building, meeting deadlines and managing their own responsibilities. ​

The judges had the difficult task of scoring the teams based on mechanism, structure, costume, food and performance in the races. Overall winners on the day were Heronswood team 1 with their World War 2 themed boxcar. Great Witley CE Primary School came second with their golden snitch and Hogwarts themed car. Burlish Park Primary School team 2 came third with their space-themed boxcar.

a group of school children under a banner with a picture of a spitfire. One child is dressed as Winston Churchill

Heronswood Primary School

As the last big event on the school calendar, the Year 6 boxcar rally will be a lasting memory of their time at primary school. Mrs Waldron, Cutnall Green CofE Primary School “Our children thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, and it was an amazing atmosphere.” Shelley Walsh have already agreed to let us use the venue again next year.

“It was great to see the pupils enjoying themselves. If this was the first, I can’t wait to see what they will achieve next year!”
Kerry Rochester Director of Education

The school used Ogden Trust partnership funding to help to fund the event. Thanks must also go to Shelsley Walsh for supplying the venue and volunteers, Hayfisher Productions for filming the event and Worcester Bosch for their expertise and judging.

A group of children and an adult preparing a boxcar

Northwick Manor Primary School, Worcester with their Back to the Future Boxcar

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