Helicopter drops in to school to inspire pupils into science, technology and maths

Excitement levels were palpable when a helicopter hovered overhead on a motivational - or should that be rotor-vational - visit to a Shropshire school.

St Georges Junior and Woodfields Infant School, where a helicopter flown by former Military pilots (now pilot trainers ar RAF Shawbury), was landing. As part of a STEM project. The pilots are: Chris Simpson and Danny Shorter who both have children at the school.
St Georges Junior and Woodfields Infant School, where a helicopter flown by former Military pilots (now pilot trainers ar RAF Shawbury), was landing. As part of a STEM project. The pilots are: Chris Simpson and Danny Shorter who both have children at the school.

A morning of studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects was organised for the youngsters at St George’s Junior School, in Shrewsbury, on Thursday.

Assistant head Charlotte Worley said: "The children in year five and six were really excited to see the helicopter circling overhead at 9am.

"They were waving at the pilots and they were waving back as it came into land. They could hear it and feel the air from the rotors from behind their cordon that was 25 metres away.

"They were surprised that they could see the feet of the pilots through the bottom of the helicopter."

All the children at the 360-strong school in Woodfield Road got the chance to see around the helicopter and ask loads of questions to the two RAF Shawbury pilots, Chris Simpson and Danny Shorter.

They and Chris's wife Ana Simpson, who used to be an engineer, told the children, including pilots' children Blair Shorter and Emily and Oliver Simpson, all about their jobs and about the Airbus EC 135 helicopter.

The visit, which took about a month to arrange, with all the requirements for health and safety to be met, included information on flight paths from Shawbury to the school and satellite images of the track it would take to the playing field.

Miss Worley said there was a whole school assembly, and a workshop for year six, when the pupils made their own mini helicopters.

Miss Worley said the pupils were really engaged by the whole morning of activities, including getting to sit in the helicopter. None of the pupils was able to go for a flight, however.

"They were asking so many questions," said Miss Worley, who is also the school STEM expert.

"The helicopter stayed until 12.15pm and years three and four watched the take off. They were all excited and jumping up and down."

The school is able to ask for "STEM ambassadors" to visit the school and talk to the children via a website. Children at the school are also learning about space in the curriculum.

And in a new twist Miss Worley hopes that some of the children will become STEM ambassadors themselves, and be able to go out to schools in the community to inspire children with their enthusiasm and knowledge.

St George's is sat next door to its main feeder infant school, Woodfield Infant School, which is also a part of Empower Trust. But unfortunately it did not prove possible to include the youngsters there in the helicopter landing this time.

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