Womens Engineering Society: Inspiring women as engineers, scientists and technical leaders

Magnificent Women and Their Flying Machines

Magnificent Women and Their Flying Machines

Please see our Magnificent Women website here. And see the Magnificent Women Resource Sheets here.

This is a schools outreach activity sponsored by Northrop Grumman.

The Women's Engineering Society (WES) has been in existence since 1919 when it was formed by the pioneering women who were involved in engineering activities during the First World War, and WES celebrated its 95th year in 2014. 2014 also marked the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War 1 in 1914, and it is the combination of these events that we are commemorating with an activity that celebrates the important work that was done by women all those years ago, and how it has made an impact on the world we live in today. We would like to use this focus to show how both women's roles in engineering have evolved in the past 100 years, showing where we are today through careers advice and role models.

In 2015 this project is being sponsored by Northrop Grumman. This project was funded in 2014 by a Royal Aeronautical Society Centennial Scholarship, and an Ingenious Grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering

The Project
WES has created an outreach activity and resource for schools and other organisations based on the build of aircraft wings designed to replicate the work that can been seen in the photograph of women working at the Garlick factory in 1914. This cross curricular activity is flexible and allows schools to combine the design and technology aspects of creating and building authentic wing structures out of Stixx (rolled up newspaper), with the pioneering work of women in engineering over the past 100 years, the scientific aspecte relating to wing design and flight mechanics, team working skills, careers advise relating to the modern day work of aerospace engineers highlighted by role models, and the history of World War One including the rise of the suffrage movement.

The activity can be done in full or in part, and can take place within a school day as an off-timetable theme-day activity, as an after school project over several weeks, or over a series of lessons during the normal timetable, giving scope for fitting it in as is most appropriate for the individual school. It could also be offered as a holiday activity by museums, activity clubs or other groups of young people (e.g. Girl Guides, Scouts, etc)

Part 1 (approx 2 hours)

  • Build of Aircraft Wing using Stixx to replicate the work shown in the picture above from World War One Budding Engineers from Alton Convent School

Part 2 (approx 1.5 -2 hours)

  • Take a closer look at the notable Magnificent Women in engineering history – Amy Johnson, Anne Burns, Tilly Shilling, Amelia Earhart, Helen Sharman etc.
  • Give each student or group of students the name of a notable woman from aviation/aerospace/engineering history (or let them chose their own) and ask them to do some research into the  magnificent woman they have chosen, what she was famous for, and any other relevant facts that they can find out. Get them to document their findings into a resource sheet and present this back to the rest of the group.

Part 3 (approx 1 hour)

  • Talk by a single or group of practicing woman engineers, with accompanying careers information. Questions.

If you would like to carry out this activity without the need for WES facilitation, it is possible to borrow the stixx machines from WES as long as transportation costs can be covered.

Other Resources

For further details and a full copy of this resource contact Dawn Bonfield on office@wes.org.uk or Cath Heslop on info@wes.org.uk.

Magnificent Women and their flying machines Brief Overview.pdf224.26 KB
Magnificent Women and Their Flying Machines Longer Overview of Outreach.pdf401.79 KB

Our supporters