STEM with Wings launched as Primary Schools from across the UK were joined by NASA Robotics Engineer Ashitey Trebi-Ollenu, the man who lives on earth…but works on Mars. 

Taking over 9,000 young people through his journey from Ghana, to the UK, to NASA – Ashitey discussed his passion for robotics, his work with robots on Mars today, and set students a special design challenge to test their creativity. 

The natural world has evolved over millions of years to find the most efficient solutions. Ashitey looks to things in nature to inspire his work in robotics. From his ‘mole’ that digs into the surface of Mars to collect samples, to the Mars Robotic ‘Arm’ that is helping it do its job. Students heard about other examples through history where engineers have taken inspiration from nature – from the plant that inspired velcro and the Bullet Train inspired by the Kingfishers beak. 

Classes were then set a creative challenge – to design a flying vehicle or robot that solves a problem based on something from the natural world. This led to some incredible designs being sent in including Beverley School for Pupils with Autism, Lyons Hall Primary and Abbey Gates Primary.

Schools could then fire away with their questions. The response from young people was fantastic, within one minute over 200 questions were sent in to Ashitey! We covered everything from what Mars smells like (sulphur), whether humans will ever be able to live there (hopefully) and what the best part of working for NASA is (everything!). 

We ended STEM with Wings with Ashitey passing on the torch next to this new generation of engineers, setting them the challenge of finding a way to collect the samples that will be orbiting Mars in the future. Good luck to all of our young people who joined us in solving this!  A huge thank you to Ashitey for sharing his journey and infectious passion for engineering. 

Thank you to RAF Youth STEM for funding the programme and the future events taking place in the next academic year. 

STEM with Wings is a rolling programme, to register for future events please complete this short form.