UWE and Aerospace Bristol hosted local schools for free STEM day trips!
The DETI Inspire team at UWE Bristol collaborated with Air League, the UK’s leading aviation and aerospace charity, who generously supported the free delivery of Aerospace Engineering days out for 16 classes from schools in the South West. Hundreds of kids experienced Bristol’s excellent aviation history at Aerospace Bristol, before streaming into UWE’s new School of Engineering building to explore the future of sustainable flight using a virtual gaming platform.
This scheme was part of Air League’s continuing mission to inspire young people to pursue a career in aviation. They were able to offer this amazing opportunity for local schools by partnering with Aston Martin Bristol, who funded the delivery of Air League’s Inspired Engineering initiative in 2022. This funding enabled Air League to offer the free days out, as they paid for transportation costs, entry into Aerospace Bristol, and a bespoke workshop at UWE Bristol.
Throughout the day, different careers relating to the aerospace industry were discussed to give students a flavour of what a future career could look like. The goal was to inspire children from different backgrounds to start thinking about careers in STEM, particularly engineering, and give them an idea of the future roles they can hold. The initiative also aimed to emphasise the green skills that they will need in the sustainable workforce of the future.
The DETI Inspire team used their regional links to recruit primary schools to the programme, with Air League organising all transportation for classes, including the transfer between Aerospace Bristol and UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus halfway through the day. Coach costs often prohibit schools from arranging trips out for their pupils, even to relatively local educational destinations, so this funding was really appreciated by schools, particularly those from areas of socio-economic deprivation who were a priority to secure sessions for.
Each trip began with a visit to Aerospace Bristol to explore the history of air travel and aerospace design. The children got to explore the amazing exhibits, with a frequently reported favourite being a tour inside a Concorde aircraft!
This was then followed by a visit to UWE’s School of Engineering, where students explored the future of flight on the popular game Minecraft. The kids entered the virtual Filton runway, built by DETI Inspire collaborator Atkins, where they were encouraged to let their imaginations run wild to think up ways in which air travel can become more sustainable.
The students used Minecraft to digitally engineer a range of different designs, including biofuel stations for planes, where the crops used are grown on site, as well as prototypes for solar powered planes and flying electric cars!
The programme was extremely popular, with every session quickly being booked out. While the children’s enthusiasm spoke for itself throughout each session, there was also fantastic feedback from the teachers:
“We would like to say a huge thank you for this opportunity. It was a fantastic day, and the children were really excited by all that they got to do!”
“Overall, a fantastic opportunity for the children and one they would not get often.”
We have received a lot of enquiries from schools who would love to participate in future aerospace days out, so we are hoping to continue this initiative into 2023 to reach more students in the South West and inspire them into careers in STEM.
DETI Inspire use the West in Minecraft and subsequent worlds developed with the support of Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, and Science Hunters through Building to Break Barriers (funded by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant)