Years 8 and 9 gained an insight into the physics of flying when the RAF bought their awe-inspiring S.T.E.M. Roadshow to Ffynone House. ‘Fun with Flight’ was a fifty-minute jet-fuelled practical presentation. Students discovered how the physics they study in the classroom is an integral part of the work that engineers undertake in the RAF and other engineering organisations.
Using exciting demonstrations, the roadshow invited students to take part in some literal jaw-dropping experiments. Drones, balloons, airships and even jet engines were explored in a way that literally made their hair stand on end! They also learnt about the microlight world altitude record and the physics behind how the RAF achieved their goal.
We’ve asked student journalist, Year 9 Connor Bott, to fill us in on all the details:
The RAF team delivered a spectacular show! They held their demonstration in our gym and when we walked in, we were greeted with the sight of an ominous-looking net separating the audience from the three demonstrators. The net’s purpose became clear when we saw the main spectacle: a drone so large that the demonstrators had trouble lifting it at times!
The three representatives from the RAF opened with some explanation of their jobs and the kind of roles filled by people working at the organisation. They then gave a description of the drone sitting on the ground and its amazing range of features and capabilities, while everyone in the audience waited patiently in anticipation of seeing it in action. Finally, the drone was flown around behind the net, and we were treated to a show of one RAF representative piloting the drone while another attempted to hack it and take control of it. This staged conflict resulted in the drone appearing to go almost out of control, although the calm attitude of the team made it clear the audience was in no danger.
After this show was over, the team brought out what almost everyone in the room would recognise as a Virtual Reality headset. They proceeded to explain how even this technology was used in RAF training, while almost every person in the room sat on the edges of their seats waiting for an opportunity to try it out. They then showed a video of a recruit playing a horror-themed game on the headset, with a scare at the end which even elicited a few screams from the crowd. Directly afterwards, they asked for volunteers from the crowd to try the headset, although there was a suspiciously smaller level of eagerness after watching the video!
The trio then brought out what looked, to most people in the room, like a long length of pipe, but turned out to be much more interesting. When they played sounds and music through it, mesmerizing flames came out of small perforations in the pipe, producing a spectacular display of small-scale pyrotechnics that seemed to dance to the music. Possibly the most interesting thing shown was a small jet engine that was fired up for us all to see and made a noise so loud that most people in the room instinctively covered their ears as they heard it.
It was an educational and entertaining afternoon. Me and many of my peers were certainly inspired to find out more about these technologies and perhaps even work for the RAF in the future.