Q Pootle 5 to launch a UK-wide Primary school competition!


Space is a fun place to be!

That’s Q Pootle 5’s motto. So to encourage younger children to have an interest in space, lovable alien Q Pootle 5 and his creator, award-winning children’s author and illustrator, Nick Butterworth have partnered with World Space Week UK to help celebrate World Space Week 2016.

Q Pootle 5 and his friends, Oopsy, Eddi, Stella, Ray, Groobie, Bud-D and Planet Dave, love to have fun in Space, finding adventure and tackling the everyday problems of the final frontier!

To celebrate World Space Week we are inviting you to join in the fun as we launch a national competition offering you the chance to win a very special prize for your school.

WIN a visit from Q Pootle 5 and Nick Butterworth!

During the visit the winner and their classmates will get the chance to meet Q Pootle 5 and hear from Nick as he discusses the adventures of the friendly little alien and his pals.

The competition will launch on Tuesday 4 October to kickstart WSW2016 and to enter all you will need to do it download and complete the exclusive competition activity sheet which will be available from a dedicated Q Pootle 5 webpage on the WSWUK website or via STEMNET in September.

From the Q Pootle 5 webpage your pupils and little ones will also have access to further Q Pootle 5 content and you will be able to watch some of Nick’s favourite episodes.

Contact: worldspaceweek@bis-space.com for more information

Don’t forget to check back in September to download your competition activity sheet. You can also check out the Q Pootle 5 Facebook page where exclusive World Space Week themed content will appear in the run-up to the launch.



My Sun Chaser Blog – Launch Date Confirmed!

I have goose bumps! My launch has been arranged for Saturday 11th July 15 (this Saturday). I’m going to launch from Queen Mary’s Grammar School grounds in Walsall. I should get some stunning views of the Midlands and the Peak District.

Saturday Flight Path Prediction - Wednesday 8th July

The initial prediction for Saturday looks great! I’ll launch at 2:00am and fly to an altitude of ~36km. Sunrise should begin once the probe reaches an altitude of 25km. This will mean I get to see the two hours leading up to sunrise as well as about 50 minutes after sunrise. The balloon should burst just south of the Peak District and the probe should land near Ollerton, Nottinghamshire.

Saturday Weather Prediction - Wednesday 8th July

The initial weather prediction for Saturday looks good. At 2:00am there will be little, if any cloud and it should be quite mild at 11oC. The only difficulty will be the wind speed which is a little higher than the team would like.

My Sun Chaser Blog – Team Meeting 23

With examinations underway the team is down to just a few members at meets. Some of them are working on the Sun Chaser Movie. They’ve got all of the ‘Making of’ footage and they’re planning the movie around the footage which the probe should capture at altitude.

They quickly drafted a storyboard and then set about discussing details, design and music. They’ve got some great ideas and the first draft sounds really impressive.

tm23 - Packing the probe

While work began on the movie, the remaining members of the team started constructing the beacon circuit, weighing all of the equipment to fly aboard the probe and cutting the last camera mount on the probe.

tm23 - Finishing the probe

Everything is coming together and we’ll be ready in plenty of time for the launches in June. I’m getting really excited!

My Sun Chaser Blog – Team Meeting 22

The team has been working double time to get everything ready. One of the last jobs is to cut and carve the airframe so that all of the equipment fits securely. Three of the team’s engineers set about measuring positions for all of the equipment based on their design.

tm22 - Engineers working on the probe

Measuring and marking is very tricky as the probe box is a cube with a side length of less than 200mm so there isn’t much space to work inside. Having already practiced with the different cutting tools on off-cuts the engineers had a good idea of which tools to use for each job.

tm22 - Adding camera ports

Cutting requires a steady hand and the Dremel is a perfect tool as it leaves a smooth edge (if you use the right tools) and can be held with a pen grip for detailed work.

tm22 - Matt and Qiang working on the probe 2

tm22 - Probe Tracking Training

With exams looming most of the team will be revising. They’ve nearly finished the probe and the they have all trained hard for this. All that’s left to say is, “good luck to everyone for their exams!”

My Sun Chaser Blog – Horizon’s 2nd Outreach Lesson

I’m thoroughly enjoying the outreach lessons, Year 6 is great fun to work with. This week was the second lesson of Horizon’s outreach programme and it was all about ‘The Sun’. The pupils learned a lot about the features of the Sun, solar energy, why the Sun appears to rise and set, and the dangers of the Sun.

Outreach 2 - Dangers of the sun

The team tell me that this lesson was inspired by the fact that 2015 has been designated the ‘International Year of Light’:

The lesson included a number of experiments:

– a test to see how well sunscreen really works, using colour changing ultraviolet light sensitive beads and two strengths of sunscreen.

– an experiment involving solar powered toys, aimed at helping pupils to understand how solar panels work.

Outreach 2 - Solar powered wonderment

– an activity examining the effects of different light sources on refractive glasses.

– The final lesson activity was a small quiz which involved flashcards made by the team.

Outreach 2 - Quiz timeOutreach 2 - I KNOW

The pupils loved the refractive glasses experiment (you look at a light source and the glasses split white light into all of the different colours). The pupils all got to keep the glasses at the end of the lesson!
Outreach 2 - Rainbow diffraction glasses 2
The UV Beads experiment was a big success and it illustrated the importance of good quality, high SPF protection when out in the Sun.
Outreach 2 - UV Bead experiment 8

We all had a great time and I’m looking forward to next week’s lesson which will look at Project Horizon itself and the Atmosphere.

Outreach 2 - St Mary's the Mount pupils and CASSiE 2

My Sun Chaser Blog – Team Meeting 20

The Education Team had a few resources to finish for the outreach lesson and some new equipment to test. They quickly organised the rest of the group to help prepare flash cards and test the refraction glasses (rainbow light from every light source!). The solar powered toys are great fun and were easy to put together (The little solar-powered fan can turn at a surprising rate!).

One of the team’s engineers soldered the replacement GPS module to the flight computer and took it out for a test. We all waited in anticipation and after a few tense minutes he returned triumphant with a steady stream of telemetry being collected by the mobile ground station. I love the effect these triumphs have on the team and it’s a great feeling to be a part of it.
I got quite an education as two experienced members of the Flight Team spent the meeting teaching the rest of us how to use the smartphone tracking system to locate the probe when it lands. I’m really looking forward to the next stage of flight training now as we’ll be learning how to attach and fill a balloon in preparation for a probe flight!

While one of the engineers tested the Flight Computer, the rest of the Engineering Team continued working on the probe I’ll be flying in. They finished a separate compartment for my friend ‘Tweedy’ (St Mary’s the Mount Primary School’s mascot) as there won’t be space for him in the main probe. They’ve also made anchor points in both Tweedy’s compartment and the top of the main probe so that the two can be attached (although they will be separated by several metres of line so we’ll have to shout to each other if we want to talk – maybe the team will fit walkie talkies if I ask them). Next week they’re going to start cutting out the antenna and camera ports.

My Sun Chaser Blog – Horizon’s First Outreach Lesson

In previous years the Horizon team have shared advice, code, designs, research and suppliers’ details with many other schools and pupils. They’ve even travelled to Cambridge (and on to Essex) to help the Science Department at Attleborough Academy Norfolk track their first probe, ‘Monarch 1’.

AAN - Retrieval Pic

I was really excited to find out that this year they’re taking this support a step further and running their first outreach programme. The team are working with the fabulous Year 6 pupils at St Mary’s the Mount Primary School and are very grateful to the school for volunteering to work with them in developing their programme.


Their Education Team (Two of Horizon’s Physicists) have planned a programme of three lessons: ‘The Solar System’, ‘The Sun’ and ‘Our Atmosphere’. On Wednesday they ran the first ever Horizon outreach lesson. The lesson explored our Solar System, looking at the true distances between the planets, the position of the Asteroid Belt, the Oort Cloud (named after the Astronomer, Jan Oort) and Comets.

Before we arrived the class had held a vote and decided to name their mascot (who will be flying aboard the first Sun Chaser probe with me!). Let me be the first to introduce you all to my new friend ‘Tweedy’:


The team led the pupils in making posters about each of the planets, the asteroid belt and comets (using a class set of ipads and several good books). There were some fantastic posters, some great colour drawings of planets and plenty of interesting discussions and questions about Space.

Outreach 1 - Making postersOutreach 1 - Research

With posters ready, the pupils headed out onto the playground in teams to make a scale model of the Solar System with inflatable planets (toilet roll helped to measure the distances). Once the solar system was made, the long and short period ‘comets’ began to orbit the sun.

Outreach 1 - Out in the playground planning Outreach 1 - Ready with the planets

There was a lot of excitement and we had a great time discussing the Solar System, advances being made by ‘New Space’ companies and developments that the pupils might see in their lifetimes. The Education Team did a fantastic job and their passion for Physics really shone through. I’m very excited about next week’s lesson about ‘the Sun’.