Watch our 2020 Aer0nauts team promo video.
Aer0school is a STEM provision contextualised in Aeromodelling led by Mark Adams, product designer, qualified teacher and aero-modeller.
Aer0school originated as a team activity (Aer0nauts) and is now the provision that can underpin your own STEM education, CREST awards and even entry into national aero related competitions as your own school or Home- Ed team and independent entry.
Why aeromodelling? When we make most things we have an expectation for them to work. If they don't then follows frustration and disappointment. With aeroplanes this is different. For some reason when we first fly a new aircraft we automatically assume that it will not fly at all without trimming of some kind. When it does fly we are pleasantly surprised. Why is that?
The magic of flight is one that is fresh every time, every launch every safe landing. A feeling of achievement, of having diced with death and been victorious. Even crashes can be fun - especially to watch back on video! This is key for those who might otherwise find failure to be intolerable and helps the learner realise that success only comes through multiple versions, changes modifications and adaptations of an initial design. For example where in school a learner might make one or two products for GCSE or A-Level, we make many more with incremental improvements. For our 2016 payload challenge our Aer0nauts team had built 12 variations and test rigs before finalising the design. (Top image)
Aeromodelling is often thought as a hobby popular with old people with sheds. It is time consuming, expensive and riddled with hazards. For these reasons despite being rich in engineering it has not tended to be a mainstream subject in schools!!
Advances in Technology
As materials, processes and components become more readily available and as stability systems, training systems and simulators are developed the possibilities of using Aeromodelling for education become a reality. Aeromodelling is now taught in schools in some countries. But not the Uk.
Learning though experience
Failure of some kind is inevitable, we just need to control how it happens when it happens and how to use this experience to our benefit. With models, unlike full size, we have the luxury of not being onboard the aircraft. As it flies we make use of micro cameras and video footage to understand how what is going on. We3 use on screen displays to measure the airspeed, ground speed, motor current, battery life, gps location and route home. We also get a great view of the countryside! Because we can make and remake aircraft quickly and easily the learner becomes much more philosophical about failure.
As an example; the three images on the right are of an aircraft our team built, tested and flew for a competition, but that crashed in testing on the day of the competition because of what they later discovered was inadequate wing area. The team worked overnight to rebuild it the bits and although due to damaged servos did not make it back into the competition it subsequently flew beautifully with the addition of larger wing and a geared motor. The following year the team returned with a huge wing and 3D printed geared motor design that won the event. This was perhaps an extreme example. Watch our video of minor mishaps for a more normal impression.
In a unique way Aeromodelling has many of the elements that train courageous engineers to make real things that work. The cycle of design concept to practical outcome can be very short and loaded with dynamic fun. Thanks to the BMFA and other organisations, competitions exist to stimulate achievement nationally. With our facilities and experience we can make this accessible now to younger and younger children in and out of the school setting as part of a rounded education.
Out team have seen significant success at the BMFA payload challenges because of the time they have been able to spend accumulating experience and skills in a way that is not possible in schools. This grounding is highly valuable to students aspiring to careers in engineering and is particularly suitable for Home Education.
Each Aer0school project delivers strategic aspects of STEM which is embeded into building a flying object of some kind or another that can be tested and evaluated in some way.
In support of our modules we run CAD-U CAN training for CAD CAM which is preferred for one session at the end of Launchpad and essential for Orbit and Voyager. Students design at home and email the files to us which will be laser cut and posted or brought to a workshop session.
Our tech bus is equipped with a computer suite, laser cutter and 3 D printer. Of the two outputs the laser cutter is far more versatile and fast at producing items. Laser cutters are very robust but the tubes are vulnerable so our bus is necessarily huge and has air suspension for a silky smooth ride. It can accommodate 6 learners on board with computing and workspace to make things.
We can attend local day sessions with the bus but further afield requires weekend or longer bookings. Where no shelter is available such as a hall or classroom our awnings can suffice in good weather. We use our own onboard power.
We are pleased to announce the success of our new event, this year partnering with the Shuttleworth Collection.
We have a selection of projects to run as activities days for schools and youth clubs
This involves building and assembling our kits and flying them indoors or outdoors.
Activities come with learning packs, instructional videos.
All of our courses come CREST ready - so you can achieve recognition for the rigour and status of your achievement in educational currency.