Rollercoasters and pirate ships were the focus of a Rolls-Royce workshop at Derby Grammar School designed to inspire future engineers.

Students in Year 9 took part in the Maths Through Science session with three graduates from Derby-based Rolls-Royce.

The class was split into two groups with one team building their own rollercoaster before working out how high up the track the car needs to be released from to complete one loop.

Students in the other team were given a model of a pirate ship, which had already been assembled, and were asked to find out what controls how long a pirate ship takes to complete an oscillation.

Catherine Hocknell, Rolls-Royce graduate engineer, led the session with nuclear controls graduate, Mark Northfield, and civil aerospace engineering graduate, James Roberts.

Catherine said the aim was to engage students with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) by showing them how they can apply it to real-life situations.

She said: “We ask the students to conduct different experiments with the equipment and the idea is so that they can see how Science works in the real world and in this case it’s by using a rollercoaster and a pirate ship.

“The pirate ship is a complicated model so that is already built for them but they get to build the rollercoaster themselves. Running a workshop like this is also a little bit more fun for Year 9.”

Mark said he hoped that students would be inspired to consider future careers linked to STEM.

He said: “We’ve been running these Maths Through Science sessions in schools since March and we hope that we are inspiring the next generation and supporting students to gain a better understanding of STEM. We hope to inspire students to consider a whole range of careers including engineering.”

Alisa Trubilina, Head of Physics at Derby Grammar School, said getting companies like Rolls-Royce involved in delivering workshops gives students important exposure to the world of work.

She said: “Our school is very strong academically but being able to learn in a classroom environment is not all that an employer is looking for. I want our boys to be aware of the importance of the ‘soft skills’ – communication skills, social and emotional intelligence.

“They find it quite refreshing when a visitor like the Rolls-Royce representative asks them to solve a problem not by regurgitating knowledge from their physics and maths lessons, but by working as a team, and distributing tasks based on each others’ strengths – an important attribute in the work environment.

“Students get to apply knowledge learnt in their lessons here at school. They get an opportunity to ask about the opportunities work at such a prestigious company and they get to have fun!”