Aer0school is a STEM provision contextualised in Aeromodelling.

Why aeromodelling? Well, because when we make things we kind of expect them to work. If they don't then follows frustration and disappointment. With aeroplanes it is different. For some reason when we first fly a new aircraft we automatically assume that it will not fly perfectly - or even at all and require trimming of some kind. When it does finally perform some kind of stable journey we are pleasantly surprised. Why is that?

 

Risk

Like other 'risky' activities the assumption is that a failure of some kind is inevitable, we just need to control how it happens when it happens. With aircraft its the crash. How many YouTube videos are there of planes that land safely? Plenty of planes being tossed around by the wind. Without needing to be high-tech or state of the art, making things fly is universally exciting because of the risk and the imagination of the participant in translating the model to a full size context.

Why Aero-modelling is a rich context for engineering education.

Risk is an element that has been largely ironed out of education. And yet it is the anvil against which we learn to forge judgements. Failure is essential to success - it even defines 'success'. So our job is to facilitate failure in a controlled way as not to be too catastrophic or injurious, especially to children.

Life Modelling

So much of life is 'modelled' in the classroom. We want our kids to learn without any risk. Sadly this is even more so for engineering students at degree level. There is not the time or money to make physical things that can arguably be modelled on computer. But how can we ever understand 'dynamics' unless we make things that physically move and operate with purpose. How do students educated in schools without D&T departments who gain A levels in Science and Maths ever have the same dynamic understanding as that of a student who also has a childhood making model aircraft? What other accessible 'hobby' provides the scope of hand/eye coordination and dynamic interaction? Safely?

Gravity

Aeromodelling like full size has one purpose. To not crash. This imperative underlies everything about a plane's engineering, servicing and piloting. Because gravity is never off duty, neglect causes crashes. It just does. It is a foregone conclusion. And so we must learn about procedures and rules and codes of conduct. Each student will need to pass the new CAA test if they wish to fly a radio controlled plane. Not difficult but requiring a breadth of understanding mainly about other people and how not to hurt them.

Purpose

Aviation is all about purpose. Payloads, journeys, passengers are all about compromise and judgements. Aviation is costly so it is used to great effect in places where nothing else will do. We explore the operation of MAF, the worlds largest airline which serves people in remote outlying regions of the world with light aircraft for medial and provisional purposes. We explore historical collections of aircraft to discover their purpose and their unique strengths and weaknesses. This culminates in designing planes that will carry payloads for the BMFA payload challenges in the summer.

Rapid Manufacturing

Once we are able to accept that the value is in the 'lesson' not the 'product' and once we have a way of building and re-building quickly we can test things to destruction quite happily. Unfortunately aeromodelling is not traditionally known for the speed at which one builds planes. Usually a winter of evenings in the shed is required. In Aer0school each participant learns to design and make using the laser cutter so that making and rebuilding is accelerated many times over.

 

 

Aer0nauts

Out team have seen significant success at the BMFA payload challenges because of the time they have been able to spend accumulating experience and skills in a way that is not possible in schools or even universities. This grounding is highly valuable to students aspiring to careers in engineering.

 

Each project delivers strategic aspects of STEM which is embeded into building a flying object of some kind or another that can be tested and evaluated in some way.

In support of our modules we run CAD-U CAN training for CAD CAM which is preferred for one session at the end of Launchpad and essential for Orbit and Voyager. Students design at home and email the files to us which will be laser cut and posted or brought to a workshop session. 

Tech Bus

Our tech bus is equipped with a computer suite, laser cutter and 3 D printer. Of the two outputs the laser cutter is far more versatile and fast at producing items. Laser cutters are very robust but the tubes are vulnerable so our bus is necessarily huge and has air suspension for a silky smooth ride. It can accommodate 6 learners on board with computing and workspace to make things. 

We can attend local day sessions with the bus but further afield requires weekend or longer bookings. Where no shelter is available such as a hall or classroom our awnings can suffice in good weather. We use our own onboard power.

Aer0camp

We are pleased to announce our new event partnering with the Shuttleworth Collection.

Activities days

We have a selection of projects to run as activities days for schools and youth clubs

This involves building and assembling our kits and flying them indoors or outdoors.

Activities come with learning packs, instructional videos etc as appropriate and CREST accreditation.

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