Cabot Learning Federation Airshow 2012

Added 19th July 2012


Science Teacher, Adam Loxton led this project for the Federation. It brought together students from five Academies into mixed teams with engineers from Rolls-Royce, ARUP, Claverham and Cross Manufacturing. 30 engineers led by Steve Smith a model aviation designer helped 200 students build 20 airplanes from high quality corrugated board.

Following the success of this event we are now running the South West Schools Aviation Challenge with finals at the
Yeovilton International Airshow 2013

Watch the short film about the event and experience looping the loop in a cardboard airplane 


Teams where challenged to -

1. Manufacture- Build a cardboard plane capable of radio controlled flight capable of looping the loop

2. Design- Design and test an airfoil-cross-section that produced maximum lift

3. Communicate - Create presentations to camera about the process and the engineers they were working with

Each team had four hours to complete the challenges

Students then staged an airshow for parents, friends and family with presentations, films and flying demonstrations.



Students from the different Academies formed into small teams.


Each team had an engineer from industry as their engineer . Students where tasked to interview and question the engineers


Older students took the opportunity to seek advise about careers from the visitors in school

Each day 100 students produced ten planes which were tested for quality of build and the amount of wastage in the process 




Communication Challenge 

Students from each team completed a communication challenge - presenting interviews and short pieces to camera 



Working with David Oyns from the Arkwright Scholarship Trust, through-out the day teams reviewed and improved designs for their air-foil cross section. They repeatedly tested their designs using a tool based on a device invented by the pioneers of flight.


There was a hard fought contest to decide which team's wing produced the most lift


This proved a difficult event to stage with the weather forcing all flying indoors - The students saw their planes flying in a 12 metre circle that pinned startled spectators to the walls of the school hall.


Awards were presented by Rolls-Royce, the Design and Technology Association and Cross Manufacturing in the following categories:

Manufacturing, Design, Communication, Aeronautical Skills and an Overall Winner - The winning teams were made up of students from the different academies.

A film from the event will be posted shortly -

Click here to see also CLF website - news about the event

Play the Airport Game 

Solar powered plane1 next year?

The aviation team will join this lecture by Norman Wood - Aeronautical Bio-dynamics


See the view from Cardboard Plane, looping the loop above Bristol Brunel Academy - This was an early morning test flight with lighter winds, flying outdoors was not possible in the evening due to very high winds.

What we found out - We will have a review meeting with the lead teacher in September but we did manage to ask a few questions -

We questioned just a small sample of students (14) who all reported that they enjoyed the day and were proud of what they had achieved and were looking forward to seeing it fly (even if it crashed). They could explain how a wing generated lift and they would recommend the workshops to their friends as something worth doing.

Just over half of the students questioned said they had made new friends from another academy and all said that they had bonded as a team but that it was challenging to meet and work with new people.

All students questioned saw the relevance of engineering as a future life opportunity and most thought the engineers where different than they would have expected. 

Teachers told us they liked the flow of the activity for the workshop and the range of the challenges for the students. They were impressed by the volunteers from industry and by the student's outcomes. They suggested ideas for improvement to the workshop and the rehearsal process for the airshow. They saw logistics as the main hurdle for events like this in schools especially when bringing four schools to one site.

Engineers were all impressed with the activity and enjoyed meeting the students, they suggested valuable improvements at the end of day one and day two. Several engineers returned to the academy for the evening presentation at the end of the week. One design engineer from Rolls-Royce offered to scan in the plane's design drawings and produce construction drawings and dxf files to enable manufacturing of airplane kits and introduce more precision engineering activity to the construction process. Engineers praised the quality of the design of the airplane and the build process.




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