On the 17th March 2022, a group of four RAF Shawbury personnel took a day out of the office for a flying STEM visit to Berkeley Academy in Crewe.
The team of RAF STEM Ambassadors arrived by Juno Helicopter and were met by a vibrant atmosphere as the whole school cheered with excitement at the sight of a real helicopter arriving at their school. During the visit the RAF STEM Ambassadors organised their day to deliver both assemblies and tours of the helicopter to the pupils throughout the morning.
The assemblies discussed the importance of STEM within the Air Force and showed videos of the training that takes place at 1 Flying Training School and the Defence College of Air and Space Operations. The RAF STEM ambassadors were put in the hot seat for a question-and-answer session. The questions were broad and challenging including:
- "Are there motorways for aircraft like there are for cars?"
- "Have you ever had any animals in the Helicopter?"
Flight Lieutenant Collins astounded pupils and teachers when he was able to respond to the latter question by answering, “No, but I have had to lift a cow by Helicopter that was stuck before;" this was met by numerous giggles from teachers and pupils alike.
During the assemblies’ other classes were given a talk and tour of the Juno helicopter flown to the school. This included everything from how the aircraft flies to what the numbers and markings on it mean. The children were able to look inside the helicopter and have a souvenir photograph taken by their teacher whilst sat in the back seat.
After a well-earned spot of lunch, the team delivered lessons about helicopters in two different classrooms concurrently. During the activity the young people were able to make their own colourful paper propellers and throw them in the air to see how they work. The students then progressed to building individual miniature helicopters using lollipop sticks, elastic bands, and a plastic propeller. They were delighted to see their own mini helicopters work.
At the end of the day the whole school gathered to watch the team and helicopter take-off and were delighted with all the STEM activities they had been able to engage in.
"It was a truly memorable day for both the children and staff and one that I am sure will be talked about for years to come. The shrieks of excitement from the children as the helicopter came into land and took off were fantastic to hear. For many children, this was their first opportunity to see a helicopter so close and, to then be able to ask the team questions about both the aircraft and the different roles within the RAF, certainly gave even more meaning to their learning about the STEM subjects. Children were able to see the value of the different STEM subjects and how integral they are to different roles which they may not have considered before. We are extremely grateful to Wing Commander Phil Spencer and his team for their organisation, enthusiasm and contribution towards making the day such a huge success."
Berkeley Academy Head Teacher