Robots and rocket science

Lockheed Martin’s outreach programme promotes a passion for STEM.

Image of children watching the bottle rockets go off

Lockheed Martin’s hugely successful outreach team has been inspiring a new generation of engineers and scientists with a number of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) projects at local schools and colleges over the past few months. Back in March, the team of graduate engineers from the company’s Ampthill site helped around 120 primary school children become rocket scientists for the day.

An amazing learning experience

They organised an activity that saw the pupils design and decorate water bottle rockets and then watch in amazement as they blasted off more than 30 feet in the air. The graduates covered basic aerodynamics and propulsion theory with the children and then helped them apply the science to their own creations. “The children have not stopped talking about it – Lockheed Martin provided us with an amazing learning experience,” says Livingstone Primary school’s science coordinator Alison White. Also in March, the outreach team hosted four schools and colleges as they took on the Lockheed Martin Great Eggscape TechBox challenge. The teams of 16 to 18-year-olds had to design and build a robotic system to free an egg from prison, without breaking it and using only a box of kit given to them by the outreach graduates.

Prison break

The prison was created with a number of different exit routes, ranging from a hidden tunnel behind a weakened wall, an open exit blocked by laser tripwires, an unguarded inward opening door, a short, winding corridor and an open tunnel filled with lava. The schools had been given their boxes – containing basic robot kit components and a variety of household items – in advance so they could practice, but had just two hours to build their robots from scratch on the day. The tense challenge saw eggs dropped, wedged in doorways and rolled into lava, as well as robots jammed into tight corners and stuck on broken walls, all before a small team of physics A level students from local Bedford Academy emerged triumphant. “I’m incredibly proud of the work we do to get young people enthused by STEM subjects,” says Professor Steve Burnage, from Lockheed Martin. “We’re helping to inspire a new generation of passionate and talented engineers and scientists.”