Marshall ADG sparks passion for engineering in hundreds of students for Cambridge LaunchPad

In March,  Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group opened their hangar doors to host Cambridge LaunchPad activity days for 250 Year 4 students from schools across Cambridgeshire. The 8-9 year olds from Abbey Meadows, Fen Ditton, Fulbourn, King’s Hedges and St Faith’s Schools were each treated to a fun-packed day full of exciting hands-on activities and a site tour where they were able to explore a C-130 Hercules, an in-use aircraft maintenance facility and the airport fire station.

The children were challenged to use their teamwork and engineering skills to put together chariots that they could ride across the hangar floor, and handheld structures that would allow them to transport “toxic waste” around an obstacle course. To test their creative skills, the students had to design parachutes with protective baskets that would allow an egg to drop quickly from a height of over 10m without smashing. They were also tasked with using Cambridge BrainBox kits to build electric-powered cars that were raced along a track.

Laura Moore, Year 4 Teacher at King’s Hedges Primary School, said:

“It was wonderful to see so many of our pupils who can struggle in an ordinary classroom environment fully engaged in the activities provided over a sustained period of time. I was able to see a different side of a couple of quiet pupils who confidently worked with others they had just met to seek solutions, solve problems and improve on their initial ideas. Over the day, many conversations were had amongst the pupils about the planes and machinery they saw and it stirred their curiosity for the future!.“

 

Marshall developed the programme in 2014 as a way of introducing engineering to young people and encourage more girls and young women to consider the subject at higher education and industry. It has since grown to include over 20 other leading STEM organisations who will be reaching over 1100 students aged 8-18 years old, and inspiring them in a diverse range of STEM subjects. Introducing students to real-life role models who break gender stereotypes and are passionate about their careers, allows them to see that STEM industries can be accessible with a wide variety of jobs available.

Jason Gollaglee, Systems Engineering SME at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, said:

“It’s been intriguing to see every pupil have a completely different vision of what STEM means to them and the unique ideas they come up with to tackle problems. By the end of the day, you could really see a transformation in how engaged the students had become, constantly asking questions and having a willingness to learn more. An amazing moment was asking all the students “Who wants to be a pilot?” and “Who wants to be a fire fighter?” with a small amount of enthusiasm. But when asked “Who wants to design planes?” and “Who wants to fix planes?”, there was a huge scream of YEAH!.”

The Cambridge LaunchPad Ambassadors, made up of volunteers from Marshall and a number of well-known organisations from across Cambridge and London, selected 20 students who were able to best demonstrate the programme’s Core Values of teamwork, enthusiasm, innovation and creativity. These lucky students will attend a prize trip that will take place in the summer, alongside winning Year 4–6 students from other schools and colleges that are taking part in Cambridge LaunchPad.

Anna Aldred, STEM Outreach and Cambridge LaunchPad Project Manager from Form the Future CIC, said:

“The strength of these days with Marshall ADG has been to allow these students to take part in hands-on activities in a working engineering setting. This is such a unique and special learning environment, which will embed the experience in their minds for a long time to come.”

 

If you wish to find out more about our STEM outreach programmes and to be involved in our Cambridge LaunchPad next year, please contact us at aaldred@formthefuture.org.uk.

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