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Local schools from across the Cotswolds are competing in a space-inspired Junior Engineering Challenge.

The competition, which is funded by the Gloucestershire-based RAF Charitable Trust challenges pairs of year five and six pupils from seventeen primary schools* to build a catapult that can launch a projectile onto a ‘planet’.

Run by STEMworks, the curriculum-based workshop teaches the pupils about the history and science behind catapults and encourages them to apply their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) skills.

To succeed, the pairs must build a catapult using their £100 'credit card' to buy materials such as wooden dowels, paperclips, pipe cleaners and cardboard.

The competition guidelines state that the catapult must use elastic bands as a propeller, incorporate a ‘base’ which costs £25, be no shorter than 10cm, no wider than 20cm and must represent the school.

The children have three attempts to launch their projectile the furthest, with the winning pair from each school progressing to the final on Friday 19 July.

Held at the Royal International Air Tattoo’s critically-acclaimed TechnoZone®, the final will task the pupils with one final challenge and ask them to deliver a presentation about their catapult to the judges.

The winning team will be awarded £500 to purchase STEM equipment for their school.

TechnoZone® Coordinator Sandra Keen said: “The Junior Engineering Challenge provides a fantastic opportunity for young people to apply the STEM skills that they have learnt in school to a ‘real life’ scenario.

“For a career in engineering, pupils must choose STEM subjects at GCSE – hopefully this challenge will inspire them and play a part in their choices”.

Elsewhere in the TechnoZone®, visitors can see a planetarium show and full-scale ExoMars rover prototype from Airbus Defence and Space.

Other airshow highlights include the RAF Red Arrows’ last UK display before they depart for their Western Hawk 19 Tour, a special 70th anniversary NATO flypast, the Royal Jordanian Air Force C-130H Hercules and the rarely seen Spanish Navy Harriers.

Tickets for the airshow, which is staged annually in support of the RAF Charitable Trust, can be purchased online at or by calling 01285 713456. All accompanied under-18s go free.

*The schools taking part are: Kemble Primary School, Bibury Primary School, Stow on the Wold Primary School, Hatherop CE Primary School, Ashton Keynes CE Primary School, Rodmarton Primary School, Eastcombe Primary School, Sherborne Primary School, The Rissington School, Kempsford Primary School, Avening Primary School, Sapperton Primary School, Southrop Primary School, St Lawrence C of E Primary School, Siddlington C of E Primary School, Powell’s C of E Primary School and Down Ampney C of E Primary School.

Royal International Air Tattoo

RAF Fairford, Kempsford, Gloucestershire, GL7 4EG

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