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Pupils chuck paper planes for science

PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 February 2010 | UPDATED: 09:12 01 August 2010

THE idea of children throwing things across a classroom would fill most teachers with horror.

But a group of students from six middle schools in Waveney have been chucking paper aeroplanes around the prestigious Cambridge University, all in the name of science.

THE idea of children throwing things across a classroom would fill most teachers with horror.

But a group of students from six middle schools in Waveney have been chucking paper aeroplanes around the prestigious Cambridge University, all in the name of science.

The pupils, all part of the Gifted and Talented Project, were taking part in the latest module, which seeks to enrich the school curriculum in maths and science.

And more than 100 children from Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth, Worlingham and Gisleham Middle School, alongside Saint Felix School in Southwold learnt about the science of flight.

Their day began with a talk by Paul Thomas, a researcher at the Whittle Laboratory, Cambridge University, who spoke about the maths and physics behind flight and gave an overview of possible careers in engineering.

After lunch the students walked to the department of engineering to put what they'd just learned into practise by making their own gliders using basic materials such as card, polystyrene, tape, paper clips and plasticine.

Their designs - which varied from bi-planes to jumbo jets - were put to the test in one of the lecture theatres where the most elegant gliders flew a distance of 15 metres to shouts of applause.

Antony Chambers, from Halesworth Middle School, said: “This is great fun for me because I might want to be a pilot in the future. I'm good at maths and I've been on a flight simulator in Germany - and they said I did well. The talk from Paul was really interesting.”

Beth Derks, co-ordinator for the Gifted and Talented Project said: “One of the main aims of the project is to raise aspirations and attainment of gifted and talented students in science and maths, and give them a glimpse of the opportunities in engineering, what better way of doing that then to give them a hands-on experience in an inspiring setting.

“This total experience could truly set the students up for life. Many of them have never left their immediate area and from a non academic background and are not sure how being good at science and math can be put to good use in future life. Here they were informed, enthused and put to the test by people they actually could relate to. They found out that Cambridge students came from all walks of life and in studying you were actually expected to make mistakes in order to progress.

Wietske Hendriksen, her colleague added: “It was also very encouraging that they performed so well as the level of the task was aimed at 14 year olds, and they were only 12 and the most success full of all groups that had visited so far.

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