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Sixthformer wins national design competition

An A level student from Barrow Sixth Form College has won a national competition for his innovative idea to help athletes keep at their peak physical fitness during lockdown.

Izzy Rodger designed an atmosphere mask to reduce the volume of oxygen an Olympic athlete can take in so they can train on limited breathing.

His equipment design won the BAE Systems/Sport England Design competition, including a conversation with a top athlete.

Izzy, who is an Honours student at the Rating Lane campus and studies A levels in Maths, Physics and History, said he had chosen to focus on karate as a sporting discipline.

“I spotted the competition on Facebook and thought I’d have a go,” he said. “My submission was very fun to write as it allowed me to explore sport science and biology.”

“The practice of kata and kumite in karate, which would have been assessed during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has fascinated me, as the training required to perfect them is strikingly similar to that which I practice myself.”

His mask helps athletes by increasing the muscle strength in lung tissues and, in his submission he also talked about the training regime that would be required. The design had to meet criteria set out including to be suitably compact for use in a global pandemic as well as being environmentally friendly.

“From the designs I have consulted for the mask, I noticed they had a great similarity to the medical masks and respirators currently being produced by BAE Systems in their efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, therefore meaning that producing such an item for an athlete would be relatively simplistic,” said Izzy, who joined sixth form from Walney School and aims to study a degree in natural sciences at Cambridge University.

The judges said his entry was ‘an excellent, well presented, entry demonstrating a very good understanding of the sport and the challenges that the pandemic has imposed’.

Richard Hamer, education director at BAE Systems said: “It’s great to see students engaging with these engineering and design competitions, especially when they are in the local area for one of our key sites here in Barrow.

“Izzy has clearly grasped both the biological needs of the athlete and how to enhance their training with his engineering skills.

“BAE Systems is proud to support both UK Sport and STEM learning around the country. There are a host of curriculum-linked resources on our web site freely available for anyone who wants to find out more.”


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