Rocket Science at St. Ives Junior School

Charlotte Harverson

Charlotte Harverson

Head of Education and Sales

St Ives Junior School Logo

The big Water Rokit day had finally arrived. I was up with a boost of excitement at 5 a.m as today I had been invited to St. Ives Junior School to meet 60 children who were looking forward to flying Water Rokits. I had recently bought a new stirrup pump so I was keen to road test it.

I was greeted at the school by such friendly, chatty children, and a young chap called William who was their resident science specialist, he already had a keen handle on Newton’s 3rd law which is key to rocket flight.

Gareth the Deputy Head came to meet me with great enthusiasm and led me into a jam-packed classroom of keen, future Roketeers eager and inquisitive to learn more about rocketry and space.

The children had just finished a project all about space, and were eager to tell me what they had learned so far. I explained that by the end of our session they would be qualified Junior Rocketeers and we had a lot to cover. We had a 30 minute briefing about key rocket facts including the importance of satellites which led onto some very intelligent questions being generated such as ‘what happens at the different stages of rocket flight, to what happens to a space craft on re-entry’.

These kids were definitely engaged and on a mission to learn, I could feel the energy in the room as we got closer to preparing for launch.

The kids then grabbed their coats and 4 of them kindly offered to carry my equipment out side to their play area.

We divided the children into 3 teams and explained that we would carry out a pre-flight final check which in rocket lingo is known as a “launch poll”. One team was in charge of the weather conditions. The second, ground control and engineering, the third atmospheric conditions and all were ‘eyes up’ to the skies.

The rocket was part filled with water, primed and ready for launch. Then a brave young girl from the class made her way up to do the pumping. I called out to each team to ask if they were ready for launch and I got the all clear from each team. We were ‘go for launch’.

Then there was silence. You could have heard a pin drop. Pumping started and air was travelling into the activated rocket. You could see the air bubbles appearing and the pressure was building inside the recycled fizzy pop bottle. T-minus 10 seconds and counting. Then there was a rumble, fizz and whoosh!

The rocket launched and took flight. Zooming upwards, high into the sky. The children yelled with excitement, eagerly tracing the path of the rocket. ‘All eyes were transfixed’. With the first launch a complete success they were hooked.

We then discussed how many exciting opportunities there are now in Space and Aerospace especially as the UK Space Port has opened in Newquay. Plus, the incredible new courses available in Space related careers at Truro and Penwith College with one of the best engineering departments I have seen. I could be looking at our future engineers, scientists and mathematicians.

At that moment you could see in the children’s faces that anything was possible. Many more launches followed, and then the children made their way back to classrooms to prepare their rockets for more experiments by adding on payloads to them in the form of eggs 🥚.

The goal here is to get your egg, AKA Astronaut, up to Space and down again without it breaking. At this point it was over to one of St Ives passionate junior teachers, Naomi, to progress this for another day.

It was time for me to depart, and leave all these newly qualified Junior Rocketeers and Space Buddies to progress their newly found skills themselves. The children all waved as they left their class room to attend assembly.

I left with a happy heart. See you next year St Ives. Thank you for making me feel so welcome.

Thank you so much, the children were really inspired, we will definitely be inviting you back for a longer session next year. The children are still talking about it, we can’t wait to work with you again. In a recent Pupil Voice, three children in my class now want to be rocket engineers. We are very excited about your education portal as we really want to develop our space topic so any lesson plans and sessions will be gratefully received.
Gareth Tudor - Teacher - St Ives School
Gareth Tudor
St Ives Junior School Learning Together, Free to Fly
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