Blackhorse Primary send Gromit into space!

Blackhorse Primary school in Emersons Green is aiming to become the first primary school in the country to embark on space exploration by sending a mascot 30000m (19 miles) to the edge of space!

Blackhorse Primary school will be holding a special Engineering Week 3rd-7th June and were looking at ways to truly inspire a new generation of Bristolian Engineers. The school concluded that it would need to do something dramatic to inspire a new generation of engineers, physicists and mathematicians and decided that space exploration was something which would exceed all expectations.

Luckily, Design Technology Leader and Year 3 teacher, Deb Baker, knew just the men for the job - Atkins Aerospace Engineers Dave Curtis and Chris Driscoll - whose unusual hobby involves using helium balloons and old smart phones to take videos from the edge of space. Indeed, this will be the third space expedition for Dave and Chris having previously captured some stunning footage of space and the curvature of the Earth.

Next the school had to decide on a Mascot and, as the school is currently decorating its own Gromit for the Bristol Children's Hospital 'Gromit Unleashed' Appeal, decided to send a miniature Gromit into the heavens to publicise this excellent local cause.

On 5th June (weather permitting) the Engineers will visit Blackhorse and brief year 6 'mission control' about the day's planned launch, including explaining the online computer modelling software which the children will be using to determine the launch and landing site dependant on local wind and weather forecasts. Once this has been established, 8 lucky children (selected after winning a half-term science competition) will join Dave, Chris, Head Teacher Simon Botten and Deputy Head Teacher Neil Fry in travelling to the launch site. From there the space mission team will Skype 'Mission Control' back to school as they prepare to launch the balloon and miniature Gromit. Once released, Gromit and a filming smart phone will take approximately 1 hour to reach the edge of space where the school hopes to capture footage of him in space with the Earth behind. At approximately 19 miles up, the balloon will burst, returning Gromit to Earth on a parachute. Finally, the space exploration team will use the smart phone's GPS to locate and recover the phone and Gromit, at last getting to see the recording of his amazing adventure, which will be emailed back to school for all to see.

Head Teacher, Simon Botten, commented 'Blackhorse Primary recognises that it is essential for Bristol and the UK to maintain its position as a world leader in engineering and we believe that this starts by igniting a spark of interest at a young age. During our Engineering Week, representatives from the Bloodhound Project, Rolls Royce, Aktins and other great local engineering firms will be working with the children designing and engineering different means of transportation from helicopters to rockets! We want to teach the children that engineering, maths and science can quite literally take you anywhere. How better to prove this than by showing our children that with an understanding of science and technology and a bit of ingenuity, it is possible to send something into space.'

The Blackhorse Space Launch will take place, weather permitting, on Wednesday 5th June from a site near Tewkesbury.

For more information contact Simon Botten at or phone the school office on: 01454 866570

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