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Our Flying Futures roadshow gets young engineers off to a flying start!

March 2023

The school hall becomes a sky of cascading pets with parachutes launched by our ‘Jet a Pet to the Vet’ machine. In the test zone paper straw rockets slice through the air, all the while, an electric blower fires paper cups, cartons and other objects with various experimental holes and modifications along a cable as the pupils investigate ‘Why do some shapes fly through the air better than others?’ This is our Flying Futures roadshow, with tinkering, testing and making in every corner.

Pupils test out aircraft designs in our custom made launch device. Will they execute an effective take-off and landing?

Flying Futures is led by Maker{Futures} in partnership with The Work-Wise Foundation and Vulcan to the Sky Trust, funded by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious Award. The project has linked local engineers from industry and academia and brought interactive activities to fifteen primary schools in South Yorkshire. The aim is to introduce children to the world of Aerospace Engineering through engaging, hands-on activities. The long term goal is to strengthen perceptions of engineering as an attractive, valuable and accessible future career option for all children. 

The inspiration for Flying Futures is the Avro Vulcan XH558 with its impressive technical innovations which placed Britain at the forefront of aircraft design over seventy years ago.

Avro Vulcan XH558

Avro Vulcan XH558

Why ‘Flying Futures’?

South Yorkshire has a rich network of aerospace engineering companies which feed the global aerospace supply chain. From the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Boeing, to aerospace component manufacturers Rolls Royce and Metalysis. However, The Institution of Engineering and Technology estimates a shortfall in the STEM sector which equates to an average of 10 unfilled roles per business.  Traditionally, engineering has struggled to recruit a diverse workforce and women, people with disabilities and ethnic minority backgrounds have been underrepresented.  By involving children in projects such as Flying Futures from a young age, we can open up a world of creative problem solving and opportunities. We hope that more children will consider an engineering future.

The Flying Futures activities

At the heart of Flying Futures are ten activities - designed by engineers - for seven to eleven year olds based upon big questions facing the aviation industry such as

Children have loved using their problem solving, creativity and collaboration skills. 

Using Snap Circuits to launch a flying saucer into space.

Exploring the possibility of frictionless motors with magnetic levitation.

Creating an aviation advert using Stop Motion Animation and LEGO

One of our amazing engineer volunteers!


Thank you to all the schools that have hosted the roadshow so far and to all our volunteers. We’ve enjoyed some great feedback and comments from the pupils, teachers and engineers that have joined us. 

"When I grow up I am going to be an engineer… keep your eyes on the television, you will hear about me there." said one pupil. A volunteer commented “engagement with a wide range of kids, particularly those with additional needs has been the project's greatest success”. Teachers from one school particularly liked “...the variety and accessibility for all children irrelevant of age or ability” and that there was “...something for everyone” and ”...different stations for all types of minds”.

What next?

We will continue to give young people career broadening opportunities and the knowledge and skills to create, make and mend things. Look out for our final Flying Futures public events coming up in April!  Thanks to our funders The Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious Awards.