STEM Event at RAF Halton

  |  Published: Nov 24th 2016

Trenchard Museum at RAF Halton has been working with the Royal Aeronautical Society to promote aerospace and aviation to a new generation under the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) umbrella. A number of Cool Aeronautics events have been held at the Station, are free to attend and offer a fantastic opportunity for young people, the new generation, to meet inspirational people from across the industry and to engage with aerospace themed activities that are relevant to the current Key Skills 2 National Curriculum.

Another Cool Aeronautics STEM event was held recently and the key note speaker was Group Captain Mark Manwaring, a Royal Air Force fast jet navigator, and Chairman of the Halton Aero Club, who spoke to the 64 gathered children about his endeavour in 2018 to break the UK and world speed records for circumnavigation of the earth in a Van’s RV7 light aircraft which he is presently building.  It will be to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force and is called ‘The Centenary Flight Of The Navigator’ (see website) and expected to raise significant funds for the Benevolent Fund. During the three-year build the aircraft will be ‘missioned’ for the most challenging elements of the circumnavigation which require it to carry 470 litres of fuel, (usually just 159 litres), advanced navigation and communication equipment and survival kit.

After the lecture, the children, from Halton Combined Primary School and Aston Clinton School were divided into six groups and went on to carry out six activities at various areas of the Station, chaperoned by Servicemen Awaiting Trade Training (SATTs). In one activity the children were briefed by pilots of the Halton Aero Club on the principles of flight and given the opportunity to sit in a light aircraft as the pilot. In another activity three young engineers from Rolls-Royce Derby STEM Ambassadors took the children through how the jet engine works, which key components form part of the jet engine and how they perform.  They are shown how to take the engine apart into its nine component pieces, and taken through how to build the jet engine themselves with the pieces in the correct order.  Once they are confident building the engine correctly, they can build against one another in a competitive build-off session.

Next was a map reading activity using grid references and communicating using hand held radios, here they were introduced to Morse Code under the guidance of the London & South East Air Training Corp Communication Officer and his colleagues.

The British Model Flying Association (BMFA) led the aircraft model making activity when the children made Aerojet models and then flew them and volunteers from the Trenchard Museum at RAF Halton also led a number of other activities including the children ‘flying’ a Chipmunk aircraft flight simulator, a Link trainer simulator (made in Aylesbury by Air Trainers Limited in the 1950s) and a briefing on aerodynamics.

Bill McGrath, instrumental in putting the event together, said: “A hectic day for all concerned but the smile on the children’s faces throughout the day and as they were given their goody bags provided by the Royal Aeronautical Society at the end of the day, made it all worthwhile. Anne Hughes from the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) also attended to observe the sessions, which were hailed a huge success, gauged by how animated and engaged the children were during the sessions. RAF Halton intend to carry out more in the new year and already have a list of schools waiting to take part.”

Carol Macdonald, Deputy Head-teacher at Aston Clinton School said: "Thank you for an extremely enjoyable day and we were very grateful to all the volunteers who gave up their time to make it such a successful event.  The children came back inspired by all of the activities and some even said they would  like to be pilots when they grew up!  They described the event as an experience they would never forget and if they were critics they would give it 10/10."  

Some of the children’s comments:

“The simulator was good because I landed perfectly”

“This was really fun and informative”

“I really enjoyed putting the Rolls Royce engines together as fast as we could”

“I found out how to fly a chipmunk plane and use the flaps to control the aircraft”

“I enjoyed finding out about the hangar and looking at the weather equipment- it was so cool and interesting”

child in simulator
testing model planes
learning in progress
Images of the day
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