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Year 10 Fly High

Last Thursday saw Mr Adams take 9 of Toot Hill’s finest linguists to RAF Cranwell for a day of languages tasters and challenges. ‘Team French’, consisting of Isobel Ward, Lizzie Ellis, Hannah Benson, Jenny Brown, Raffe Kenwood and Seb Rolley were joined by a depleted German team (Katy Walker, Jack Boswell and Kyle ) braved the tropical heat and enclosed space to show willing, ingenuity and creativity throughout the day.

They were a credit to the school throughout, and the day started well with Isobel and Jack playing important roles in their teams sharing the (soon to be melted) spoils by winning the ice-breaker decoding competition. Ice broken (insert heat related pun of choice here), we were ready to try some Pashtu – with Mr Adams unable to resist the urge to get stuck into the new challenge too! Of equal interest was listening to the experiences of the RAF’s linguists and learning about some of the ways languages are used in day-to-day operations (we all learnt something new here!)

After a comfort break to re-hydrate, it was time to find out the challenge for the day. A parachute egg drop… Time to exercise the engineering based brain cells as well as flexing the linguistic muscles! Our teams set about their tasks with gusto – team German deciding to literally ‘go big or go home’ (with a parachute large enough for Jack himself) whilst team French went aesthetic and complex (would it work? Read on to find out!). Of equal importance was the devising of survival kits and justifications in their chosen languages, and the all-important presentations to business and language specialists (brains and bravery would be vital to survival let-alone success).

The task, however, wasn’t without distractions – the first of which involved blind-folded students being guided around a room in French/German by their peers in order to communicate a hidden code to a team of inspectors. Team French performed admirably, finishing joint third in their heat before a heavily depleted team Deutsch competed well against the odds and the obvious numerical disadvantage. This was followed by a teaching kidnapping, with Mr Adams and Mrs Farmer whisked away to prevent any help, hindrance or interference. (Thankfully this wasn’t really needed, and the students were already hard at work and making headway on their respective tasks).

After a chance to stretch legs, get some fresh air and enjoy a nice free lunch, our Franco-German engineers were ready to complete their tasks – it was time for the final preparations for presentations and to add the finishing touches to parachutes. A real shame, therefore, when the French chute started to disintegrate in Seb’s hands. Only a frantic effort from Hannah would ensure there was anything to present to the awaiting panel of judges!

Parachutes, presentations and survival kits completed, it was off into ‘the Dragons’ Den’. Our French contingent were first up, and their presentation lived up to Mr Adams’ lofty expectations – clear, concise and well communicated (turns out they didn’t need his help after all!). Nerves for them turned to the impending egg drop, and the almost certain messy end to their eggs’ short lives. Despite the rapid decent and failure of their ‘innovative’ parachute, team French had at least protected their egg effectively and it emerged unscathed. Unfortunately for team German, this wasn’t the case – a tangled shoot and rough landing on concrete meant their egg met a sticky demise (there would be no bonus points here, all but ruling them out in the race for top spot).

With the final tasks completed, it was time for the prizes. Although neither team made it into the top two, they were awarded special praise (and a prize to Katy Walker) for their response to the teacher kidnapping and ability to help others and create a large, cohesive team with other schools. What a fantastic skill to have! There were further prizes for the entirety of team German for their excellent commitment against the numbers game, and for Katy (again) for completing the incredibly difficult logic puzzle later in the day. At the end of a busy day, it was time for final goodbyes, mercis and dankes before we set off. All 9 students involved can be incredibly proud of themselves, and they were excellent ambassadors of the school throughout. Special mention is reserved for their independence during all tasks – as much as they may have wanted help at the start, they stuck to their tasks and completed them with minimal interference from Mr Adams and more than most can be very pleased with what THEY produced and achieved.

Hopefully our friends at the RAF will be joining us at Toot Hill in the new academic year, and more of our students will have the chance to work with them, and find out about some of the exciting opportunities they can offer the linguists of the future.

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February 2020


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