Bloomfield School with their rocket

This week saw the national finals of the UK Youth Rocketry Challenge at BMFA Buckminster near Grantham.

Schools from across the country who had succeeded in regional finals came together to compete for just one place in the prestigious 2018 International Final in July. As soon as the competitors started to assemble, teams were keen to get started on preparing their rockets. What was clear as the room filled with eager school children is that they were excited about the challenge and to see how their rockets perform. It was great to see such a buzz around physics and engineering which is something we constantly try to build on as we seek to get more people interested in STEM. What was particularly encouraging is that the participants were almost equally split between male and female – a positive sign for the prospects of boosting female representation in engineering fields in the future.

Emily Smith, one of the rocketeers from Abbeyfield School, said:

“The Rocketry Challenge is a good learning experience and it encourages you to work in a team. It’s a good opportunity for the future as it gives you exposure to engineering and physics as possible careers in the future. It’s really exciting.”

Designing and preparing a rocket for launch demands precision and careful planning down to the last details, like strategically packing the cargo of eggs so they wouldn’t break in flight or upon landing, and making sure everything was correctly in place for successful launch and landing. Seeing the young rocketeers making the final preparations was an impressive sight. It was great to see teams building on their communication and teamwork throughout the day and the challenge.

Upon launching, the rockets flew hundreds of metres up and it was great to see the rockets successfully break up mid-air to release the parachute and descend back down to the ground.

The winners were Rocketon from Tonbridge School who managed two consistent flights of their rockets to secure their place representing the UK in the international finals at Farnborough International Airshow. Alongside 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, Tonbridge School, Sweyne Park School and Abbeyfield School, respectively, there was an award for best team name which went to Thurstable School’s team Thrustable. Some of the rockets were very well decorated with Schwooop-D-Do from Ashville College winning the award for ‘best decorated rocket’.

Rocket - Schwooop-D-Do

The international finals will be held on Futures Day, a day designed to inspire and teach children about careers in aerospace, defence and space. The day is free to attend for groups from schools, universities and youth associations (aged 11-21). To find out more information about Futures Day, click here.