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Engineering enthusiasts step back in time

Published: 22 Dec 2016

Secondary-school students can 'step back in time' as they learn how aircraft wings were produced in WW1 using state-of-the-art STIXX machines. 

RAF STIXX machines have been purchased by RAF Cranwell's Youth and Diversity team to help deliver core Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) outreach activities to students throughout the UK. The total package, which has been funded by an £18,800 grant from the RAF Charitable Trust (RAFCT), contains three sets of STIXX machines, designed for students to use in a variety of innovative and imaginative design and build challenges.

The machines allow users to turn old newspaper into rigid rods (STIXX) which can be used in a number of ways for different structures.

SO3 Youth Policy Officer Deborah Green said: "The machines are extremely versatile and can be used to deliver activities that incorporate aviation and STEM awareness for educational establishments, air cadets, Arkwright Scholars, youth charities and RAF STEM Residential Courses."

RAF STEM Ambassadors on RAF stations around the UK will use the machines to assist the delivery of a variety of engineering experiences to students, aged 10 - 15. An example is the project, known as 'Magnificent Women and their Flying Machines', designed by the Women's Engineering Society and aimed at young girls to educate them on the work women carried out during WW1. 

Deborah continued: "Students will be given hands-on experience of making STIXX to build replica aircraft wings. The project will also focus on historical female figures, modern day engineering and aircraft design as well as useful information about careers available in the RAF in engineering and aviation.

"It is our aspiration that there will eventually be STEM 'hubs' created in locations around the UK which will offer STIXX and other STEM activities for school and cadet groups . These activities will form part of the project work students on RAF Residential Courses need to carry out to graduate with a British Science CREST Silver Award."

RAFCT Director Amanda Butcher said: "Trustees approved this grant to help raise awareness of engineering and aviation among young people, with the aim of encouraging more young women to pursue careers in the industry. The value of RAF personnel delivering STEM engagement is fundamental as they are able to provide context of how they use STEM in their roles and can answer any queries participants may have."

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