DERBY Day at Grandchester State School had all the pomp of the most prestigious of events with a well informed and vocal race caller, a number of professionally built, high powered and very slick racing machines, drivers at their peak and trophies the envy of the racing world.
But according to Grandchester State School Principal, Adam Poulus, the Derby Day is actually a unit of work entitled Design and Technology.
Adam explained that the children were tasked to plan, build, paint and race billy carts and they would also need to design and build the tracks for the big event.
“We put the children into teams, where they had to design the cart and then source the material they would need to build it.
“This was when they realised that not only were more materials required but some expert advice was definitely a must.”
Local retirees Peter Kickbusch and John Watts, were invited to help, with students saying ‘they just knew so much about what we needed to do’.
Not only did they help to turn the plans into carts, they also arrived at school loaded with wood, wheels, seats and bolts.
“Best of all, they came with a great deal of knowledge to pass on to the students and created a wonderful bond as they worked with the kids.”
Peter and John came up to the school a couple of afternoons a week and soon had the children on track with measuring, sawing, drilling and hammering.
Adam said there was ‘plenty of fun during the building of some great billy carts’.
Painting was the next step, again with a great deal of planning going into the designs and artwork on each cart, with most of the paint donated by John.
The trophies were also designed by the children.
Next the children had to design the tracks which proved to be more challenging than they first thought.
“During that process they had to consider several factors, including the need for the track to be sloped for easy pushing but to also be challenging as each cart was built differently and needed to be given a fair chance.”
Those in attendance on the day may have disagreed with his description of the day, as a work unit, as with the excitement building and the smiles on the students faces belying any thought that this has been viewed as ‘schoolwork’ by the year 4-7 students as they prepared to race their billy carts.
It was with a building excitement that the students welcomed family, friends, members of the community and invited guests to the event.
Front row seats gave race goers a clear view of the Mounting Yard as each race team, dressed in team theme, proudly presented their vehicle with a brief history to its origins.
It was then time to begin with two events on the race card, the Downhill Kickbusch Classic and the John Watts Cross Country.
The Golden Wheel, the Silver Brake and the Bronze Bolt were the trophies the students were aiming to win.
Cheers and encouraging calls from the crowd welcomed the Cats, Aussie Rider, Rat Mobile, Thunderstruck, Mojo Jojo, Spare Parts and Santa’s Sleigh teams and their carts into the Mounting Yard.
The finishing post for the John Watts cross country was where the youngest students of the school gathered to cheer their favoured cart across the line, each one coming through the chequered flag.
It was then time for the Downhill Kickbusch Classic with breaths held and cheers released or sighs heard as the carts rolled to a stop and awaited the judges’ measurement call.
As clouds rolled in and thunger was heard in the distance the race teams lined up to hear the results and as the rain came down they cheered and clapped as each winner was announced.
The Golden Wheel, recognising first place went to team ‘Thunderstruck’, appropiately named considering the weather change, under the control of Josh Nyberg, Tammy Gain and Chloe Stacey.
Team Cats, Chloe Blatchford, Aijalon Chambers, Stella Meier and Tylah Rawlings claimed second place and the Silver Brake.
The Bronze Bolt was claimed by team Rat Mobile, Sammi Topp, Mat Wilson, Noah Davidson and Nick Henderson.
“Not only did the students learn a whole raft of skills, during this process, they worked well as teams and most of all they had a great time,” Adam said.

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