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News > School News > Three, two, one... blast-off! Rocket launch fuels physics students' passion for engineering

Three, two, one... blast-off! Rocket launch fuels physics students' passion for engineering

2 Jun 2022
School News

A GROUP of budding engineers have designed and built their own scale model rocket to launch from the school playing field this summer.

Members of the Sixth Form’s student-led Engineering Society have met weekly in the physics laboratories to work on the ambitious project.

The A Level students researched the legalities and logistics of building and launching a rocket at school, before designing and purchasing parts. They used the Schools’ state-of-the-art 3D printers to create the rocket’s nose cone, body tube and fins.

Year 13 students Owen Milne, Aaron Flack, and Alex Cloke, who all want to forge a career in engineering, are the founding members of the society, which has around 15 participants and is supported by Head of Physics, Mark Dickinson.

Owen, who is taking A Levels in Physics, Maths and Biology, with plans to study mechanical or electrical engineering at university, said they intend to launch the missile using a class c model rocket motor.

“We want to launch and land the rocket in the school field, so as well as building the rocket itself we’ve also needed to make a suitable launch pad,” he explained.

The group had hoped to enter the rocket into the UK Youth Rocketry Challenge - an annual contest that requires students to design, build, launch and land a model rocket with a fragile payload, which in this year’s case was two raw hen’s eggs.

Sadly, the rocket was not ready in time, but younger society members, currently in Year 12, may consider entering it into next year’s contest.

Aaron, who is also taking A Levels in Physics, Maths and Biology, and wants to study mechanical engineering at university, said his involvement in the society, and its exciting rocket project, strengthened his UCAS application personal statement.

He said: “My favourite part of the society has been the practical element of designing and building our own rocket; our meetings are really engaging and quite different to lessons and lectures.

“It has been a great addition to my personal statement and helps demonstrate my true passion for physics and engineering. The society has also been a great way to meet people with similar interests and for teambuilding, which is a great skill for the future.”

Historically, Dame Allan’s was one of the first schools in Newcastle to have dedicated physics laboratories at its former site on College Street, in the city centre. Today, it is investing in new, state-of-the-art labs as part of the wider, multi-million pound ‘North End Development’ at its Senior Schools site in Fowberry Crescent, Fenham.

Alex, who is taking A Levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Economics, and also wants to study mechanical engineering at university, said the new development will be “a game changer” for the Schools.

“I was lucky enough to be in the first group of students to start at the Junior School when it opened in 2012, and I believe the North End Development will echo the same forward-thinking mindset, with modern equipment, new labs, a creative hub and much-needed space,” said the 18-year-old.

“Dame Allan’s is always evolving, despite being such a historic establishment, and I’ve always felt at home here. Its backbone is its people, and I don’t think many schools can say that.”

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