Army engineers inspire youngsters in glider challenge

Army engineers have shared their technical expertise with schoolchildren as part of a creative design challenge aimed at promoting skills in science and engineering.

More than 50 schoolchildren from six primary schools have taken part in the central Midlands final of a ‘Fly to the Line’ Glider Challenge at the Ministry of Defence’s Kineton munitions depot in Warwickshire.

The children, aged 8 and 9, competed in teams of four to design, build and fly gliders the furthest distance. Nationally, 278 schools and several thousand students are competing in the UK Primary Schools Glider Challenge which aims to inspire year 4 and 5 students to take an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

STEM Ambassadors from the Army and the Royal Air Force were on hand to help the children build their gliders. After testing, each team flew their glider over three rounds with the students encouraged to adjust their plane after each flight.

The winning glider, ‘The Stinger’, came from St Paul’s C of E Primary School, Nuneaton whose glider flew an impressive 12.1 metres. In second place was a team from The Dassett C of E Primary School, Fenny Compton in Warwickshire while third spot went to pupils from Blockley C of E Primary School in Gloucestershire.

All three teams qualified for the national final which will be held at the RAF Museum Cosford on 27 June.

A special prize for innovation went to pupils from Winterfold House School, Chaddesley Corbett in Worcestershire whose plane stood out for its design, colour and creativity.

Major John Rendall, Kineton Station Commander, said: “We were very pleased to host this regional final and it was fantastic to see the pupils taking on the task of designing their gliders with so much energy and enthusiasm.

“I hope that some of these young people will be inspired to consider a career in engineering. Inside or outside the Army, engineering offers the opportunity to shape the future of the world in which we live.

“STEM skills are vital to the Army. Our engineers can meet every challenge and are deployed across the globe in exciting and challenging environments. They are the critical component in delivering combat capability which protects the nation.”

The Fly to the Line Glider Challenge follows other activities the Army in the West Midlands has held recently to mark the Year of Engineering 2018.

On 9 May, soldiers from Kineton set up a tent in St Nicholas Park, Warwick, where they demonstrated activities such as coding, rocket and helicopter building: all skills that promote STEM and critical thinking.

On 15 May, 68 children from five secondary and academy schools in Stoke-on-Trent took on Exercise Griffin Spanner, a series of electrical and mechanical engineering tasks at the Army’s Swynnerton training camp in Staffordshire. The event was hosted by The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers with interactive stands bringing Army engineering to life for the schoolchildren.

Throughout the rest of this year soldiers from Kineton will hold workshops with local schools to inspire young people to consider STEM subjects and careers.