It’s rocket science for Bedfordshire primary school pupils

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Around 120 pupils from a local primary school became rocket scientists for the day with the help of Bedfordshire engineering business Lockheed Martin UK.

The children, from Maulden Lower School, designed and decorated water bottle rockets and then watched in amazement as they blasted off more than 20 feet in the air.

It was one in a series of events organised by engineers from Lockheed Martin’s Ampthill site to mark British Science Week.

The children were taught basic aerodynamics and propulsion theory and then applied the science to their own creations.

Alex Godfrey, one of the Lockheed Martin engineers involved in running the day, said: “We talked about why the rockets needed to be pointy, and how fins on the side are needed to stabilise flight.

“The children took it all on board and created some amazing rockets from the simple supplies we gave them.

“After we talked about the science of launching the rockets the children were very excited to see it in action.

“It’s one thing to learn the theory behind propulsion and thrust in a classroom but to see it working in real life – especially when something they’ve created is being launched high in the air – delighted them all.”

The rockets were made out of plastic bottles with a small amount of water poured into them.

Compressed air was then pumped into the bottles and as the air pressure forced the water out, the rockets soared upwards.

Kathy Dwyer, head teacher at Maulden Lower School said: “What a wonderful day. The children had an amazing time being rocket scientists.

“They were very curious about space and had lots of questions, which were brilliantly answered by the engineers from Lockheed Martin. It was a great start to our science week.”

Year four pupil Sam Bosher, nine, said: “The best bit was the launch. We got a second go with our rocket and it was exciting to see if it would go wrong – but it didn’t.

“I also really liked it when Alex explained all about the different jobs that engineers do.”

A number of events in local schools and colleges were organised by the Ampthill business to celebrate British Science Week, which ran from March 10-19.

Students from Queens Park Academy and Castle Newnham School enjoyed their own bottle rockets day, with the year 4 pupils from Castle Newnham presenting their work to parents at their STEM fair.

Lockheed Martin engineers also visited Goldington Academy, where they took part in a ‘girlbots’ group, helping young women develop autonomous robot control systems, followed by an aerodynamics workshop tasking 11-12 year-olds with designing and modelling a low drag car and testing it in a desktop wind tunnel.

Any schools that are interested in working with the Lockheed Martin engineering outreach team should email outreach.fc-ampthill@lmco.com