‘As OIC Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) for RAF Waddington, Flt Lt Kelly Mahon is responsible for the co-ordination of over 80 STEM Ambassadors based at Waddington. RAF STEM Ambassadors take part in a wide range of events throughout the year from supporting STEM days in schools to supporting projects on station such as Race for the line, a rocket car challenge.

Whilst almost all the events planned for 2020 and early 2021 had to be cancelled due to COVID, the STEM team began developing new ways of delivering STEM which would provide greater flexibility in the future. Using the pandemic as an opportunity, the team developed ‘Virtual Project X’ taking all the basic principles of the much-loved egg drop challenge and making it achievable under social distancing restrictions. The team utilised the latest technologies to create a platform for delivery allowing for external and internal use, providing a meeting space with audio and video and a chat function work area.

On 26 Mar, Virtual Project X officially kicked off with the new Project Officers, Cpl Dan Huddlestone and Cpl Adam Willis, inviting STEM Ambassadors to take part and support 10 new schools from across Lincolnshire as far as Horncastle and Holbeach and thus continuing the long-standing partnership between the Lincolnshire Education Business Partnership (EBP) and Northrop Grumman.

This engineering challenge is aimed at year eight students form a range of secondary schools where they are required to design, build and test a model aircraft capable of dropping fragile supplies from a zip-wire. During the weeks leading up to the final day on July 8, selected schools will work with their assigned STEM Ambassadors to build their delivery aircraft following specific guidelines, then they will pitch their ideas in a virtual Dragon’s Den. The final run will be filmed and submitted by the 2 July for STEM Ambassadors to upload to the MS Teams sight to be shown on the final’s day.

Project X is one of the largest STEM events ran by station and even though the team are looking forward to getting back to face to face delivery, they are excited to be able to offer this opportunity to our local schools virtually.

Future upcoming events for STEM at RAF Waddington include the face to face delivery of a Space Camp developed by Flt Lt Graham Holt in conjunction with OIC STEM, paper rocket racing at RAF Waddington Families day and the development of a coding club under the ASTRA scheme’.

Flt Lt Kelly Mahon, OIC STEM