What is his background
Dr Steve Harris was a silicon chip designer throughout most of his career but always had a profound interest in aircraft. Not only is he a volunteer at the RAF Museum Cosford but he’s also a member of a local flying club. Self-employed, he was able to gradually cut down on work until he reached a point where he felt ready to retire.
First volunteering experience
He began looking for opportunities to volunteer four years ago. This is when started his own coding club, Code Club, at a local primary school to introduce programming to children early in their lives. He does this by using simple coding language called Scratch. As Steve put it himself “Children shouldn’t just consume technology but have the skills and opportunity to create it themselves.”
To make it easier to volunteer and teach children, Steve became an Ambassador with STEM Learning. This is an organisation whose goal is to further the understanding of the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Becoming an Ambassador meant that he was qualified to teach the STEM subjects and made it a lot easier to work with children.
Joining the RAF Museum
After running Co-Club for two years, Steve then began to volunteer at the RAF Museum Cosford in 2017. He initially joined as a Fun ‘n’ Flight explainer which he continues to do today. Steve added “I enjoy the experience a great deal as I am able to share my knowledge on the science of flight with such a huge variety of children”. Steve was also able to put his skills to great use by repairing some of the interactives within the Fun ‘n’ Flight area, benefiting the Museum a great deal. He remembers having an interactive helicopter engine in his kitchen for two weeks until he was able to get it operational again.
Furthering his Volunteering
Whilst remaining a Fun ‘n’ Flight explainer, Steve then went on to teach STEM at the RAF Museum as part of the Access and Learning Team at Cosford. The role consisted of engaging school children (normally within four blocks of 30) through related activities. Planned and ran by both staff and volunteers, activities include building rockets and cars out of paper materials. Then having fired them via a compressed air launcher it is a competition of whose can travel the furthest. Other activities include parachute and glider building – with the latter, having regional and area finals hosted at the Museum. However, in order for students to build such vehicles they first need to be taught the science that drives them. Then how their performance can be optimised, utilising in full Steve’s knowledge and expertise.
Final message from Steve
The great thing about running these activities is that the students that come in to take part do so to learn. It is so rewarding when you realise that you have helped them fulfill that goal – it is like you are paving the way for the engineers of tomorrow.
If you would like to read another article by a Fun ‘n’ flight volunteer please refer to the article by John Daley.