Previous Youth Projects

We have worked with many schools on a variety of different projects


The Rotary Club of Sowerby Bridge have been supporting a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) project to build a flight simulator for a competition organised by The Royal Aeronautical Society.

In April 2015 David Lord, Head at Ryburn Valley High School, introduced Allan Russell, Head of Science, to the Falcon Initiative. This was an initiative by the Royal Aeronautical Society and Boeing Aircraft Corporation of America to interest Secondary School Pupils into STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) as a career choice. The challenge was to design, manufacture and operate a Flight Simulator. Within one day, Karen Allen, the then Community Engagement Co-ordinator had telephoned Derek Rolinson, a Member of the Rotary Club of Sowerby Bridge with a plea, ” Derek we’ve accepted a challenge to build  a flight simulator, where do we start?” 

That was the start of a most interesting, stimulating and rewarding journey of two and a half years to date. This is the story so far. An early meeting was convened by Allan Russell at School and included Izzi Monk, Science Teacher and STEM Group Leader, and two Rotarians from the local Rotary Club of Sowerby Bridge, Derek Rolinson, an Engineer by Profession and Stanley Topliss with an Ophthalmic background and who is also an experienced Pilot and member of a local Flying Club.

The ground rules were explained and the three stages of the Initiative which were 

The submission of a written application and design proposals by 13th July 2015 

10 successful Schools were then selected to build a prototype simulator for which £500 of Funding was available by July 2016 

2 successful prototypes were then invited to construct and test their final Simulators by July 2017

The Rotary Club Members offered support in identifying and collecting Partners for the  Project, sourcing items to feature in the Simulator and generally undertaking the role of “Gofer”. By the end of June 2015, some eighteen individuals, groups, Companies, Aero Clubs and Aviation Museums had been approached, many responding favourably with offers of support. Two aeroplane fuselarges were offered, a complete 1930 Ford “FLIVVER” from the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, which was too large for School and would have to be returned, and a PA28 forward fuselarge donated by the Sherborne Aero Club which could be retained, and is the Club that Stanley Topliss flew from.  Their support was ongoing in allowing Pupils the use of their Flight Simulator and even took some for a flight in Club Members aeroplanes. Much midnight oil was burnt by School Staff resulting in a complete 22 page Application being submitted on Friday 10th July within the deadline and with the Rotary Club as No. 1 Partner.


Once this great news was announced, the imagination of Pupils and Staff was aroused with design and development work being undertaken on many aspects of the Challenge. A range of different curriculum areas become involved, design and constructions by students from Physics, Resistant Materials and Product Design, graphics and logo designed by Graphics students, programming by ICT students, marketing and finance by Business Studies students and publicity by Media Studies students.

Advice and input was sought and freely provided by many external Organisations and individuals who were sourced either by Rotary or School Staff.  A donation of £750.00 was given by the Rotary Club of Sowerby Bridge. Izzi Monk departed to further her career with Veryan James taking an ever increasing role with Rick Middleton, Lab Technician, providing invaluable assistance. In total, it is considered that some 80 students were actively involved with the Prototype.

All activities on the Prototype culminated in a visit to School of two Representatives of the Royal Aeronautical Society whose enthusiastic compliments indicated that the combined efforts of Students, Staff and various external Partners were well appreciated not least the fact that an actual aircraft fuselage was incorporated. Finally, all 10 Schools were invited to Duxford Aircraft Museum on Saturday 4th June 2016, to each give their final presentation at which time Ryburn Valley High School were awarded First Prize and a cheque for £5000.00 to help fund the next stage of design and building a working simulator.

Work commenced on final design with manufacturing drawings for the finished product. It was decided to assemble the simulator on a suitable Trailer as a condition of the Initiative was for it to be transportable to go to various Exhibitions around the Country. A suitable 4 wheeled trailer was identified and sourced by Derek Rolinson and purchased by Allan Russell. Technical advice was requested of many manufacturers and the response from Siemans in particular typifies the level of external support offered. In recognition of the excellence of the work from Students and Staff from the Flight Simulator/ STEM Teams, the School have been shortlisted by the Times Educational Supplement for their Science, Engineering and Technology School Team of the year Award.  They were one of the only eight schools shortlisted to attend a gathering at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, London.  They didn’t win but to be shortlisted was no mean feat. Twenty two Members and wives of Rotarians will see, even “fly” the Simulator on Wednesday 4th October and on Monday 26th March 2018 two Students will tell our Club of “A Pupils View of the Flight Simulator Project”

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