Kettering students become rocket scientists for the day

These students could be set for a career in engineering after becoming rocket scientists for the day.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 23rd July 2016, 5:00 am
Pupils from Kettering Science Academy designed and launched their own rockets at the Ampthill base of Lockheed Martin UK
Pupils from Kettering Science Academy designed and launched their own rockets at the Ampthill base of Lockheed Martin UK

About 30 pupils from Kettering Science Academy travelled to Bedfordshire to design and launch their own rockets at the Ampthill base of global technology company Lockheed Martin UK.

The students were set the challenge to build a water powered rocket as part of a science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) day.

They were taught about force, thrust, drag, aerodynamics and stability and then applied the science to their own creations.

One of the rockets

The rockets were made out of plastic bottles with a small amount of water poured into them.

Compressed air was pumped into the bottles and as the air pressure forced the water out, the rockets soared upwards.

The students competed to see which rocket could travel the furthest distance, deliver the most cargo, and stay on course along a centreline.

Despite being significantly outnumbered by the boys, the winning team was a group of four Year 10 girls with their rocket travelling 58 metres.

One of the rockets

Steve Bedford, an engineering manager at Lockheed Martin, said: “We do excellent outreach work supporting schools and inspiring students within the local area in Bedfordshire.

“I’m a STEM ambassador for the company and because I’m based in Broughton I was keen to extend our support into Northamptonshire, as many Lockheed employees live in the county.

“The rockets day was organised to help get the students excited about science and technology, and they really got into all the activities we planned.

“They also had a tour of our site and saw some of our cutting-edge engineering projects and programmes up close.

“The feedback we’ve had from the school is that the students had a great day with us.”

Kettering Science Academy teacher Louise Oliver said: “It was a fantastic day and a very interesting one for our students.

“They were presented with a high level of challenge – so much so that even I, as a physics teacher, learned something new about aerodynamics.

“The students were buzzing.

“They really enjoyed going on the tour and seeing real-life engineering in action.

“They finished the day with a talk about different ways into engineering, including graduate and apprenticeship schemes, and they are so enthusiastic about STEM careers.”

The day was organised after Lockheed Martin donated £1,000 to help the school set up its own STEM after-school club and buy a Lego Mindstorm robotics kit.

This was matched by the school, and with the two sets of equipment they are able to support 40 students.

The aim of the club is to develop social skills, team building and problem solving, as well as learning high-level programming and design skills.

The students are working towards entering a team in an international robotics challenge.