Universities Week sees Wiltshire pupils explore science and engineering

School pupils from across Wiltshire celebrated Universities Week 2011 by attending fun and interactive science and engineering events on campus this week.

On Monday 13 June a physics event marked the start of Universities Week 2011, a national campaign demonstrating the benefits of universities within UK society.

Gifted secondary school pupils came to campus to extend the physics lessons they receive through school, and learn about Newton’s laws of motion in the building of a water rocket.

An 'experts' team, including Ian Dryden of the RAF, Andrew Fell from Atkins Aerospace and Chris Preston from the MOD also took part in the event.

An 'experts' team, including Ian Dryden of the RAF, Andrew Fell from Atkins Aerospace and Chris Preston from the MOD also took part in the event.

The pupils, aged 14 to 15-years-old, came from schools across Wiltshire and were selected for demonstrating their unique abilities in the field of science.

The talented youngsters were individuals expected to achieve at a level significantly higher than the average for their school year, and the event allowed them to challenge and develop their skills in a way that might not be possible in a traditional classroom atmosphere.

The students will took part in a quiz about space and space rockets, before a theory session taught them about Newton’s laws of motion.

The students were then split into teams along with pupils from other schools to design and build a water rocket, before testing the rocket’s ability to fly.

They also competed against a team made up of their teachers and also against a team of ‘experts’ – made up of volunteers from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) ambassador programme including Chris Preston from the MoD, Andy Fell from Atkins Global and Wing Commander Ian Dryden from the RAF.

Once the teams were happy with their designs they competed to find out whose rocket flew the furthest. They day ended with an evaluation of the different designs created by the teams.

The pupils launched the water rockets they had designed.

The pupils launched the water rockets they had designed.

At another University of Bath event planned for the end of Universities Week, Swindon Academy will be visiting the University to take part in an engineering event on Friday 17 June.

The ‘Great Egg Drop’, will see the year 6 pupils working in teams alongside scientists and engineers to design unique methods of cushioning an egg to prevent it from breaking when dropped from a height.

The pupils will also take part in a tour of the University of Bath campus, and learn about what life at university is like.

During the afternoon, there will be an exciting liquid nitrogen show followed by a question and answer session with engineers and scientists from the University.

Both events are being organised by Liz Simmons, Outreach Events Coordinator from the University of Bath.

Liz says: “Both events aim to offer a unique, hands-on science and engineering experience to pupils from across Wiltshire, to extend the lessons they have in school and excite them about these subjects.

“Many of these pupils have already shown an interest in the subject areas and these events allow them to explore science and engineering further, and think about the sort of study they might enjoy as they progress through their education.

“Universities have a unique role to play in supplementing the education of school pupils. Here in Bath we run regular events which give local schools the opportunity to visit campus and experience first-hand the type of work that takes place here.”

The events both form part of the University of Bath outreach programme.

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