The task of designing and building an ejector seat to shoot a small teddy bear out of an aeroplane test rig was the challenge that faced Wey Valley School students at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton on a special visit day to give Year 10 students the chance to work in teams on a real-life engineering challenge.
The budding engineers’ day was launched with a lesson on how ejector seats have developed over time through examination of museum exhibits.  A crew of experienced pilots then treated them to first-hand stories of ejector seats in use.
The day finished with the teams presenting their costed designs to a panel of judges that including experts from Bournemouth University and BAE Systems. Their designs had to include a safety indicator and a safety release mechanism.


The14 and 15 year-olds were assessed on a range of technical factors as well as their communication, teamwork and presentation skills. All team members were assessed during the day, and all the Wey Valley students achieved the British Science Association’s CREST Discovery Award as a result of their day’s project work. 


Mary Critchell, manager of the 14-19 age group at The Wey Valley School, said:

“Earning the CREST Award provides our students with evidence of the extended skills they gained on their day in Yeovilton, and will be invaluable in illustrating to potential employers and universities what these students are capable of, beyond their academic achievements.”

Student Alex Stevenson said: “The day was great fun but also gave us a good insight into what is involved in a real-life engineering design project.”
Classmate Beth McSevney said: “We really enjoyed getting stuck into the design challenge.  Working in teams probably led to more interesting design solutions, and I genuinely feel I’ve gained skills that will be useful in the future.”

The day was offered to students who have expressed an interest in possibly entering a career in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) sector.