TEENAGERS who designed a drone capable of detecting nuclear radiation dazzled judges before being crowned winners in a regional competition.

The team of five Year 8 and Year 9 pupils at St Helena School are celebrating after fighting off challenges from ten other schools at the Raytheon Quadcopter Regional Competition.

The group of brainy teens had been tasked with crafting their own quadcopter around a theme of Japan.

Their minds turned to the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima and the team decided to design a drone which could be used to map background radiation.

The competition consisted of an initial build day, when the pupils were handed the parts to assemble the drone and received assistance from an engineer with Raytheon Harlow.

A ‘fly day’ followed, when the drones were examined to make sure they were safe and the youngsters got the chance to fly their machines for the first time.

At the regional finals the group staged a presentation of their theme, showing off the modifications made to the drone before flying several difficult courses.

The team’s quadcopter was steered through hoops and around slalom poles in the fastest time.

Josh Wallace, Tito Ahmed, Seb Jensen, Damian Rusecki and Taylor Munsen of the Land of the Rising Drones were delighted to scoop first place.

They will compete in the national finals in Birmingham today.

William James, senior science technician at the school, said: “I am so proud of the team, I have seen how hard they all worked and I suspected they would do well.

“When they heard they had won so spectacularly I could see how happy they all were, it made all the hours of work worthwhile.

“They have all been working like crazy since then to get ready for the UK finals against the best teams from all across the country.”

He added: “This is a drone over 250g, which requires registration under new government legislation and will require the students to take the new online test before they can fly it outside.

“Since the regional finals the students have been busy redesigning their electronics to extend the range of the receiver and transmitter, tidying up the wiring of their drone to try and get they few marks they didn’t get in the regionals.”