Blast off as Ackworth school mascot Howard pays a visit to space

A school mascot was given a special treat when he paid a visit to space last week.

Howard, the mascot of Ackworth Howard School, Pontefract, was even gifted a specially-made school uniform to keep him warm as he rose through the Earth’s atmosphere.

Howard, the mascot of Ackworth Howard School, Pontefract, was even gifted a specially-made school uniform to keep him warm as he rose through the Earths atmosphere.

Howard, the mascot of Ackworth Howard School, Pontefract, was even gifted a specially-made school uniform to keep him warm as he rose through the Earths atmosphere.

Howard was sent to space as part of the school’s partnership with Classtronauts, which uses a technique known as high-altitude ballooning to send a balloon into the atmosphere and educate pupils about space.

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Michael Walker, the school’s headteacher, said: “We have done a lot of work on the use of new technologies in school.

“The company (Classtronauts) came out and did an assembly with the children and talked all about the science behind it and careers. After the assembly they went to each classroom so the children could ask their own questions about science and space flight.

“The children found them fascinating.”

On the morning of the launch, the whole school gathered to watch as Howard was attached to a latex balloon and launched from the school playground.

As well as his school jumper, he wore a bandanna made from fabric purchased during his recent trip to Tanzania, where he represented the school.

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As the balloon rose and external pressure decreased, the helium expanded and the balloon slowly increased in size.

Mr Walker estimated that the balloon was the size of two double decker buses before it burst at around 100,000 feet sending Howard hurtling back towards Earth.

During his three hour adventure, Howard had drifted slightly off course. After passing over Wetherby and Harrogate, he was eventually recovered in Skipton.

Mr Walker said: “The whole school went out and joined in and found it fascinating. We got sent a link so we could track it.”

The project was part of the school’s new vision, which attempts to provide a broad curriculum for pupils.

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Mr Walker said: “The aim was to bring the curriculum alive and highlight to the children opportunities for endless possibilities that they can relate to the classroom in a real life context.

£Our new school vision is focused on providing opportunities for growth in mind, body and spirit through inspirational and innovative education.

“We are committed to providing a broad and balanced curriculum and motivating children through access to the arts, new technologies and sporting opportunities.

“It’s not just about the academic side of things, it’s about developing the whole child, whether it be through the mind or body or spirit.

“We’ve got a lot of talented children who excel outside of school, so we want to celebrate them.”