We did it! After a windy start at 7.00am in the morning, Year 4 successfully launched a Bakewell Pudding into the outer atmosphere. It was certainly a high altitude balloon launch with a difference!
Beautiful blue skies and windy conditions greeted the children on S. Anselm’s Top Field as they met with STEM Ambassador, Mr McCloud, on Monday 18th June, just before 7.00am, to begin the complex set up process. We were joined by a crew from BBC Radio Derby, who broadcast live from the event throughout their morning breakfast show. The first live interview went out at 7.20am and all the pupils spoke with infectious excitement and confidence about the launch project.
The children were delighted to be joined by the team from Guide Dogs for the Blind, who Year 4 chose to support as part of the project. To date the children have raised £1,755 for the charity, and they are continuing their efforts with the aim of sponsoring their very own puppy. If you would like to support them, you can pledge a donation on the Year 4 Just Giving page.
As the whole school, together with parents and families, congregated at the edge of the field to watch, it became a race against both time and the increasingly strong gusts of wind to get everything ready for launch. For the onlookers, the wind raised the excitement stakes but for those involved, everything was rather tense.
Eventually, the balloon was up, safely clearing the trees and heading towards Maltby in the Lincolnshire Wolds. Quite an achievement! Within minutes, the children were able to see images from the camera attached to the payload and the onboard satellite tracker. Just minutes later, the balloon was tracked at an altitude of 13,033 metres with a surrounding air temperature of -36 degrees celsius, eventually reaching an altitude of 33,000 metres.
Two minibuses with both Year 4 classes then set off in quick pursuit, equipped with GPS tracking devices. Part way into the flight, communication was lost with the device but as the payload is fully labelled with contact details, the children hope to hear of its whereabouts and recover its data for analysis back in the classroom. Sadly, they will have to make educated assumptions as to whether the Bakewell Pudding was frozen upon point of landing and if it was fit for consumption!
Media interest has gathered in our “Bakewell Pudding lost in space” story! It reached the 8th most popular item in the BBC News as well as being covered on BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 2 (Chris Evans), Sky News, The Telegraph, The Express, The Metro, local radio and many, many more. We were also thrilled that none other than Stephen Fry tweeted a comment as well as Jeremy Vine and thousands of other comments and likes on Facebook and Twitter.
Everyone at S. Anselm’s sends their thanks to the Original Bakewell Pudding shop for their support, as well as to sponsors: Autochair Ltd, Blandy’s, DLA Piper, The Gathering at Edale, Guildford Performance Textiles, HLM, Tomlinsons and Twigg.
We especially wish to thank our STEM Ambassador Nick McCloud for his exceptional programming and aviation expertise and his generous support and commitment to S. Anselm’s and this project.