North East Connected

Rocket man inspires next generation of scientists

SCHOOL children have been reaching for the stars, thanks to a visit from a real-life ‘rocket man’, in a drive to boost interest in space and science.

Starchaser Industries founder Steve Bennett landed on Barnard Castle Preparatory School for a day of rocket making workshops with a stellar finale.

Inspired by the moon landings when he was just five, Steve set the company up in 1998 and ever since has been launching research rockets into space.

Sponsored by the RAF, he is currently testing Astra-X, which will be able to carry a person into space with the aim of launching a sustainable space tourism element to his business.

He was invited to Barnard Castle Preparatory School as part of its ‘Reach for the Stars’ creative curriculum designed to boost aspirations and an interest in science, engineering and space.

The day began with Steve’s arrival complete with a huge nine metre rocket on the back of a lorry. A full assembly followed at which Steve talked about his work and asked the children questions about space.

“I was so impressed with the children as they answered every single question correctly,” said Steve, of Manchester. “It is so important to catch them while they are young with something they will remember all of their lives and hopefully inspire them to study science.”

Year groups then worked with Steve to design and build their own small rockets which were launched 100ft into the air using compressed air. They also enjoyed examining a mystery box of artefacts including sections of rocket and samples of meteoroids.

The whole school turned out on the back fields for the blast-off of two rocket fuel-powered craft launched by pupils to a height of more than 300ft before parachuting back down to earth.

Headmistress Laura Turner said: “How better to bring learning to life than with a real-life rocket and engineer?

“The children have been fascinated by their studies of space, from reading Oliver Jeffers’ best sellers and Cosmic by Frank Cottrell-Boyce, to their maths and science lessons. The pupils’ beaming faces said it all and the day will be a school experience I am sure they will never forget.”

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