Our society needs more engineers if we are to continue developing the technology that we have come to rely upon. We recognise the vital importance of inspiring students and developing their natural enthusiasm for STEM subjects, as well as providing opportunities to develop skills that aren’t possible within the classroom environment.
We work with STEM ambassadors from several local employers, giving students hands-on engineering experiences and encouraging project-based learning in teams.
Lego Robotics Society
Year 7 and 8 students are invited to attend the weekly Lego Robotics Society, designing, building and testing a Lego Robot to compete in the Lego Robotics Challenge. The robot must complete a series of challenging tasks, including following a line, recognising colours and moving objects. The most committed students will be selected to represent the school at the regional and national competitions.
The team must present their project, justify their decision-making and compete in unseen team challenges on competition day. The 2020 Crypt team won the regional finals of the competition and advanced to the national finals at The Big Bang Fair in Birmingham in June 2023. They scored highly for the speed and control challenge and the robot mat challenge, resulting in a 'Highly Commended' award from the judges.
Flying Start Challenge
Year 9 students will have the opportunity to take part in the Flying Start Challenge, which is sponsored by nine aerospace companies. They will work in teams to design and build gliders, before competing these at regional finals. At each stage, students will receive guidance from STEM ambassadors from one of the aerospace companies. Recent teams have placed in the top three of this national competition.
The STEM Society will meet on a weekly basis; all students are invited to get involved with some hands-on experiments and challenges. The focus will be guided by the students, with recent projects covering forensic science, astronomy and chemistry.
All Year 9 students take part in Famelab Academy, a national Science communication competition which aims to develop students' oracy as well as their love of Science. All students select an area of Science and prepare a one-minute talk which they deliver to their class. Class finalists progress to the school final, where they will meet a panel of judges which is made up of teachers and external scientists. Our school winner then presents at the regional finals, competing against students from local schools.
The winner of this event is invited to speak at Cheltenham Science Festival. Our 2023 FameLab Academy finalists attended the Gloucestershire Grand Final in May. James delivered an outstanding presentation about The Expansion of The Universe. His speech took us on a journey through space and time and was thoroughly entertaining, engaging and educational. During the Q & A session, James really shone, taking every question in his stride. He confidently talked about what he would include if he had more time - dark matter.
GE Aerospace RETHINK
RETHINK is a project organised and delivered by engineers from GE Aerospace. Students from all year groups attend event days at GE where they are set engineering and computing challenges to solve, working in teams with pupils from other participating schools. Challenges this year have included using binary code, building and testing paper aeroplanes that meet a specific set of requirements, designing and building a catapult and programming a robot to perform a set of tasks.
Our Year 12 students are invited to attend a STEM day at GE Aerospace, where they learn more about careers in engineering and the apprenticeship opportunities at GE. We have strong links with GE and in recent years several of our Year 13 students have been awarded degree apprenticeships.
Women in STEM Mentoring with Kohler Mira
We work alongside Kohler Mira to offer Women in STEM mentoring to two young women from years 10-13. The students meet monthly with their mentor, who is an engineer at the company. They discuss some projects they are working on, and ask the girls to share some of their project work. The engineers also support them to learn more about the range of roles available within engineering, and possible careers routes to take. The girls attend two visit days to Kohler Mira, where they can see first hand the work that is done there, as well as meeting women working in the industry. We are very grateful to Kohler Mira for their continued support of our students.
F1 in Schools
This is an international Formula 1 engineering project which challenges teams of six students to work independently to design, manufacture and race highly technical 200mm cars against other teams from around the country.
Car design is the first major step in the competition. Teams are required to use computer-aided design (CAD) software to design and create digital scale models of their car. This stage requires some compromise on the ideal designs for the car, as it must be designed according to the Technical Regulations while at the same time optimising all features of the car to formulate the most efficient and aerodynamic design. The car is then manufactured by using a router to cut the materials, before adding 3D printed wheels and parts. At each stage of development, the car is tested on our own test track.
This is not just an engineering competition; developing the team's identity is crucial for building a good reputation in the world of F1. In addition to designing and manufacturing the car, teams have to be willing to put in a serious amount of work to ensure they are in a position to secure valued and supportive sponsorship agreements with external companies and individuals to further the efforts of the team, as well as building up support. Financial aid is required to purchase equipment and consumables. Marketing the team is also necessary to gain such support; teams must present themselves as strong competitors to other F1 in Schools teams, alongside demonstrating a professional image and a high standard of engineering.
At the regional finals in January, the teams race their car, give verbal presentations on engineering and enterprise and are judged on the quality of their pit display. The best regional teams go through to the national finals in March.
Our sixth form teams have had a lot of success at the regional finals in recent years, but a placing at the national finals has proved elusive.
We seek opportunities to expose our students to a range of guest speakers. We were incredibly lucky to welcome Professor Chris Lintott to the school in May 2023, to lead two sessions for our students who are interested in Astronomy and Science. Professor Lintott is a professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford, where he also leads the Citizen Science programme. You may recognise him from presenting the BBC series, The Sky at Night. He was inspired to pursue a career in Astrophysics by a guest speaker who visited his school, as well as using his school’s telescope with friends. It was lovely to welcome him in to inspire the next generation of scientists. Professor Lintott gave a talk on his career and research to students from all years at lunchtime, followed by an interactive session with our older students in the afternoon. We thank Professor Lintott for his time and hope that he will return to the school in the future.