The focus primary school outreach to mark the Society’s 150th anniversary and inspire the next generation, supported by Airbus Group, continued this May with three more events including the first at the fantastic At-Bristol science museum, another first event at the Redhill Aerodrome, Surrey, and a return to the wonderful Aerozone at London Stansted Airport.

Redhill Aerodrome

Organised by Adele Gammarano of the RAeS Gatwick Branch, the team at the aerodrome, led by CEO Ann Bartaby, could not have been more welcoming. The aerodrome terminal has a fantastic room with French windows opening on to views of the aerodrome and 60 pupils from two local schools, Windlesham School of Brighton and St Francis of Assisi School, Crawley, arrived bang on time for the first session, ‘Team Tim’, led by educational specialist Jo Fox of Spacefund,  an entertaining, interactive session to help an 8 year-old Tim Peake through a series of experiments for his trip into space – an energising start to the event!

The children were then even more privileged as the aerodrome opened up its Air Traffic Control Tower for visits and three local private aircraft owners landed specially for the day and allowed pupils a chance to sit in the cockpits and learn how the controls and instrumentation systems worked – truly magical!

The afternoon saw a special visit from Amy Johnson, performed by Spectrum Drama, whose wonderful and funny dramatization of Amy’s solo flight from London to Australia left the children enthralled and with an important message: “whatever your dreams, you can do it!”.

All children worked very hard to receive their special Airbus Group sponsored Cool Aeronautics wings and goody bags, while local Gatwick Branch members talked to children throughout the day about their own careers in flying and engineering. A packed programme with one of the teachers saying this was their best trip ever!

Our thanks to the RAeS Gatwick Branch, Ann Bartaby of Redhill Aerodrome and her team, and the private pilots who so generously gave tours of their aircraft creating a memorable day for all involved.

Aerozone Stansted

On the same day, further north, it was fantastic to help two more schools, De Vere Primary School, Herts, and Herne Bay Junior School, all the way from Kent, visit the Aerozone educational centre at London Stansted Airport. Once again, the Stansted team, led by Jo Davies, put on a fantastic programme with talks and workshops using the dedicated materials at the centre.

The fantastic Captain John Gibson of Titan Airways started things off with a look at a typical day of an airline pilot – comparing the different types of airlines, from passenger to cargo and some of the special qualities a pilot needs to have.

Then Glenn Rogers, Head of Engineering, Manchester Airport Group (parent owner of Stansted Airport) gave the children a fascinating and often surprising insight into the huge amount of engineering which goes into running an airport, from baggage and information systems, to ensuring the runway lighting and airport equipment is working effectively.

The fun and learning didn’t stop there with a series of workshops looking at direction and distance, the forces for flight, and, of course, a chance to visit the Aerozone’s specially designed viewing platform to see aircraft landings and taking off. The children were thrilled to see many of the pilots opening their windows to wave to them as they taxied past!

Another popular workshop, Guess the Object, saw for the first time one of the pupils guessing the trickiest object, a runway lighting cover, winning her very own lifejacket to take home, a fantastic prize!


The RAeS Bristol Branch have been working very hard to support the Cool Aeronautics 2016 programme, and on 12 May, local graduates, led by Jordann Birch of Airbus UK, and supported by Airbus and GKN STEM Ambassadors and UWE students, run their own event at the wonderful science venue in central Bristol, welcoming 120 pupils from Robert Le Kyng Primary School and Whitchurch Primary School.

Astrophysicist Deepali Lodhia launched the day with an engaging speech for the children about life in space – she once applied to be the British Astronaut and would travel to the international space station and now works to inspire young people about physics and space.

Then, the graduates put on a fantastic programme of four STEM-themed workshops:

Cabin Design Activity

Students worked in small teams to design the interior of their ‘airlines’; they were judged on the economic impact of having economy v’s business class seats.  A number of teachers commented on how they believed it would be too difficult initially but loved how it taught the students to use mathematics to make a decision.

3D Printing Workshop

Students learnt about the concept of a 3D printer and how it requires layers/shaping; they then had to create a replica of a 3D printed aeroplane from foam.

Rocket Launcher Workshop

Using a plastic bottle as a base, groups of students had to design a rocket that would be launched off a runway – the aim was to teach them how to ‘balance’ their rockets with wings and structures which would improve accuracy when landing, as well as ensuring they’re rockets reached an optimum weight to make it travel further.  Jack, 10, from Robert Le Kyng Primary School, said that he enjoyed the design process and would love to get a job in technology when he is older.

Plane Building Activity

Students worked in small teams to build a plane using components and tools – they had to get their aircrafts ‘checked’ by quality controllers at certain stages in the manufacturing process before they could move on to the next element. Lucie, 10, from Whitchurch Primary School, loved building the plane as you got to understand and use the tools that engineers use when building a real plane.

Another fantastic idea for the event was an ongoing ‘ideas wall’ throughout the day, where all pupils were invited to write on post it notes their ideas about the ‘Future of Aerospace…’ The Head of Engineering Operations at GKN Aerospace, and the Head of Early Careers at Airbus, picked two winners (they were awarded with Airbus goody bags during the closing speech) who offer these two fantastic ideas:

o             Hamster Charged 3D Printer

o             Jet Pack Engine with Emergency Pizza Maker

Truly, food for aerospace thought, demonstrating the fantastic imagination and engineering minds among children at this age!

Our thanks again to Jordann Birch of Airbus UK and the STEM Ambassadors from Airbus UK and GKN Aerospace, and from the At-Bristol team for hosting the event and providing a fantastic speaker.

Help us reach our 150 school target!

We have had fantastic support for the Cool Aeronautics aims this year and once again thank Airbus Group for their support. We have more events lined up in June and July but still welcome new events. If you are an RAeS Branch, Corporate Partner, College, University or Museum etc. anywhere in the world and would like to host an event or join an existing one, please contact the RAeS Careers Team for more details and help us support the next 50 years of aerospace innovation through inspiring today’s children!


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RAeS Careers
23 May 2016