Engaging the Next Generation of Scientists Outside the Classroom
- Published: Thursday, 12 May 2016 14:48
- Written by University of Southampton
A UK based lecturer is leading the way in encouraging teenagers to pursue a career in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
Dr Angelo Grubišić and his skydiving team of Astronautics and Aeronautics students from the University of Southampton have partnered up with the indoor skydiving company Airkix, to host physics workshops in human flight. The Aim is to encourage school children from across the country to continue STEM studies further into secondary school and beyond.
Facilitating interaction and collaboration amongst students in the classroom has been identified by science teachers as a difficult task. Dr Sarah Barton, a science teacher at Bishop Challoner School, attended the event and said:
“We brought the kids to this event so that they can learn more about the application of physics to skydiving, they have to learn about it for their GCSE’s so it’s a fantastic way to get hands on experience.
These types of events really help to keep their interest in science going. It’s not just that they can experience it for themselves, seeing the University group who talked them through their wingsuit project, gives them ideas of what they can do. You don’t necessarily see stuff like this in the news so it’s something different for them.”
Dr Angelo Grubisic is a lecturer of Astronautics at the University of Southampton. He has worked in the Astronautics industry developing spacecraft for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the European Space Agency; sending probes to the asteroid belt and Mercury. However Dr Angelo is not your average scientist or lecturer, as his main passion lies with wingsuit BASE jumping, and skydiving.
“The development of The Icarus Physics of Flight School in partnership with Southampton University and Airkix Indoor Skydiving gives me the chance to combine my two great passions in life: teaching and flying. I'm delighted that between us we have been able to provide what I believe will be the best physics lessons ever for young people and hopefully inspire a fresh interest in STEM based learning. There are few things better than having a positive impact on students’ lives and choices”.
According to a report from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology there are increasing concerns over the scarcity of young people pursuing more practically-oriented routes into STEM. In 2012 the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reported that 42% of employers currently experience difficulties in recruiting STEM-proficient staff, at all levels of expertise, from apprentices to post-graduates.
The aim of the lessons is to teach children about the science behind how the wind tunnel works, the power of the fans, why the air heats up and how air is cooled. As well as skydiving body positions, terminal velocity - such as how skydivers control their flight and stability - and how parachutes work, igniting their passion for physics with fun activities. They are hoping to bring the fun to STEM studies, and the lessons from Dr Angelo at Airkix will be rolled out across Manchester, Basingstoke, and Milton Keynes and openly invite schools along for a day of learning.
Flight enthusiast, Trevor Haines, from Airkix is actively involved in the lessons and said:
“Together with the University of Southampton, Airkix are totally committed to inspire the next generation of scientists in a totally unique, exhilarating and high-octane environment. Not only will students learn about the physics behind Dr Angelo's incredible world record attempts using hands on and practical experiments, but they'll also get to experience the dream of flight for themselves in a vertical wind tunnel - an incredible example of physics and engineering. It allows them to employ the aerodynamic principles they've learned using their own bodies as they fly in our 100mph air-flow.
I'd urge science teachers to take a break from the classroom and let Dr Angelo Grubisic and Airkix play host to you and your students."