Search for UK’s brightest STEM students

Published on: 19 April 2021

The Royal Air Force Museum in partnership with Northrop Grumman in the UK is on the lookout for enthusiastic STEM students to take part in an exciting new competition.  Each school team will compete against other school teams in a series of STEM challenges posted online, with the chance to win a two-day residential educational and vocational experience at RAF Cosford later this year.

The new STAAR programme will consist of six STEM challenges that together create the overall Mission. Students will be part of an elite team called upon to monitor earthquakes and volcanoes, provide aid to citizens, assess the damage to national communications, transport and power and help the elected Government of a UK ally to maintain civil control of the country after a series of natural disasters.

To complete their mission the team must design an unmanned aircraft that is low cost, lightweight and capable of being remotely piloted over difficult terrain in the emergency zone.  They will also demonstrate how their mission planning skills, decrypting of messages and code, and skills in creating or using a high-tech C4ISR system (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) helps to manage all their data, planning and control of the mission.

Open to all Year 9 students across the UK, the competition is the 2021 edition of the RAF Museum and Northrop Grumman’s successful Summer Time Advanced Aerospace Residency (STAAR) programme.  In its fourth year, STAAR has adapted to the limitations of Covid-19 and continues to engage the next generation of young engineers and innovators by bringing classroom STEM studies to life.

The challenges will be released over a number of weeks CLICK HERE and students have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of each challenge to successfully complete their Mission, which will culminate in a final presentation judged by a panel of experts. Each individual challenge is aligned with the national curriculum and can be completed by students together in the classroom, or remotely if they are studying from home.

Teachers can now register a total of up to 20 students, in teams of 5 students each, that the teachers feel have the ambition, aptitude and interest in STEM subjects to take part in the STAAR Challenge.  The four schools who most successfully meet the overall mission objectives across each of the six challenges, will win a two-day STAAR residential camp at RAF Cosford in Shropshire, where they will develop their skills further and complete phase two of their mission.

Nick Chaffey, Chief Executive of Northrop Grumman UK, Europe and Middle East said:

“I am extremely proud of our STAAR programme and our new 2021 approach to make it even more accessible to a larger group of young people whilst ensuring that it is still an exciting and competitive opportunity. STAAR aims to bring STEM subjects and their real world applications to life and to provide inspiration and opportunity for students to study and pursue careers in STEM. The aerospace and defence sector drives innovation and ingenuity, and the pace of development and change is ever increasing. The sector needs talented young people and STAAR helps to provide an insight into careers in our industry by understanding the importance of teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, agile approaches and thinking outside the box – those who push the envelope and are willing to try will see how they can make an impossible mission, possible.”

Julie Brierley, Head of Access and Learning at RAF Museum Cosford said: 

“We were forced to rethink our usual STAAR format due to Covid, and as a result, we now have the opportunity to engage with more students than ever before with our online curriculum-based STEM challenges, while still offering a residential experience for the four winning teams later this year.  The STAAR Competition encourages students to develop their scenario-based problem-solving skills by overcoming each of the mission challenges.  They will also experience the excitement of the aerospace industry through a range of activities, including programming drones to swarm.  The residential is fully funded and students will get to experience elements at both RAF Cosford and the RAF Museum.”

How to take part in the STAAR Competition:

  • 19 April – Applications for the competition open.
  • 10 May – Mission commences, visit rafmuseum.org for the first STEM activity.
  • 28 June – All six STEM challenges must be complete, and findings submitted.
  • 12 July – Work will be judged and results announced. The four winning schools will be notified.

The residential camp is provisionally planned for the Autumn term, dates will be confirmed with the winning schools once they have been notified.  The residential will be for up to 20 students from one class bubble at a time. The winning schools will be judged by a panel of experts from the Royal Air Force and the Aerospace Industry.

The STAAR programme is fully funded (including travel, food and accommodation for the residential phase) by Northrop Grumman and is delivered in partnership with the RAF Museum and Tablet Academy, with the generous support of RAF Cosford and the RAF Youth and STEM Engagement Team.

For more information on the STAAR programme CLICK HERE.

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