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STEM Engagement Workshops: Aeroplanes and Rockets

Dr Antony Allen, from our Energy and Electrical Group, delivered STEM workshops for 9-11 year olds, at two Staffordshire Primary Schools in June.

Firstly, Dr Allen visited Class 3 at The Howard School, Elford, followed by Class 4 at St Mary’s School, Colton.

Aeroplanes and RocketsEach workshop began with the children constructing paper rockets launched by air pressure by blowing through a drinking straw. They quickly realised that losing air pressure and not having a well-designed rocket are key factors hindering the ability to fly. After being introduced to the concept of forces and Newton’s three laws of motion they were able to explain this in a more technical way.

Next, the children considered the differences between rocket and aeroplane wings, before making a paper dart and experimenting with wing profiles’, they also added better propulsion by catapulting the planes using rubber bands!

In the afternoon, using their new skills, they designed and constructed a 3D paper rocket launched by air from stomping on a plastic drinks bottle. Impressively, several rockets reached heights greater than the school roof! Pupils experimented by changing the launch angle to maximise either their altitude or distance. In Aeroplanes and Rocketssome cases designs were modified to balance directional disturbances and make the rockets spin during flight.

The pupils reflected on their engineering experience throughout the day and were further inspired when Dr Allen talked about Helen Sharman and how her background in science and languages were key in enabling her to become the first ever British astronaut.

The pupils loved the fun hands-on workshops, and Dr Allen has already been invited back to both schools to deliver more STEM activities.