Please sir, there’s a space rocket in the car park!

Photo of Steve Bennett of Strarchaser Industries talking to Year 1 pupils.

Friday 15th November 2019 is likely to stay in the memory of pupils at Little Stoke Primary School for quite some time – as the day they came within touching distance of a real-life space rocket!

As part of a programme to promote science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM), the school had arranged a visit from Steve Bennett of UK based Starchaser Industries, who brought along his organisation’s latest project, the Nova 2 space rocket, standing a massive 12m (39ft) tall.


The as-yet unlaunched Nova 2 is designed to be capable of carrying one person into space and is intended as a stepping stone to Starchaser’s objective of serving the space tourism industry with a reusable three-person rocket ship.

The visit had been arranged by the school’s science lead, Donna Southcott, with the purpose of introducing pupils to another form of STEM profession and showing them how Steve came to be involved in it.

Donna explains:

“We began the day with an assembly in which Steve talked to us about rocket launches in the past and showed us some successful and unsuccessful launches. He also talked to us about why he decided to become a rocket scientist. Steve showed us a video of himself when he was 7 years old and first started to make rockets in his own back garden. He also showed us a video of his latest rocket called ‘Skybolt 2‘, which launched from Northumberland in September 2017.

After the assembly, each class visited the Nova 2 rocket in the school car park, to learn about the materials involved in building it and to ask questions about it. During the afternoon, children from all classes came together to build ‘Children in Need’ themed rockets from recycled materials.

One thrilled Year 5 pupil, Olivia, said of the visit:

“It was fantastic to see a real rocket because I’ve never seen one before and may never again. It was great to watch videos in the assembly when Steve showed us lots of previous launches and that they kept failing, but he never gave up. It taught me that no matter what, I should never give up but should just keep on trying just like he did.”

Donna continued:

“It is well publicised that fewer and fewer children are choosing STEM subjects at high school. Our aim at Little Stoke is to inspire our pupils into STEM from a young age. We are constantly reaching out to adults working in STEM careers to visit us and enthuse our children when it really matters. Starchaser’s visit was a truly memorable and once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of our pupils and was one of many STEM visitors and ambassadors which we have lined up.”

“We want pupils to leave Little Stoke confident in STEM and believing that any career path is possible if they work hard and follow their dreams.”

Anne Sargent, headteacher, commented:

“Our tagline at Little Stoke is ‘Dream, Plan, Achieve’ and the visit from Starchaser really summed up the importance of this for the children. We believe and teach our pupils that with hard work, imagination and resilience they can achieve anything – these are core values which run through our whole curriculum. We have revolutionised our approach to STEM over the last two years, both in the opportunities we offer children and the exciting range of learning experiences they can access.”

“In the words of Tom, one of our four-year-old Reception pupils: ‘I am going to be an astronaut one day and fly to space in a rocket.’ We really believe that he might!”

Photo of Year 5 pupils posing in front of the Nova 2 space rocket.

Photos – Top: Year 1 pupils listen to Steve talking about the rocket and ask him questions. Above: Year 5 pupils are keen to be photographed with the Nova 2 space rocket. [View hi-res versions on Google; Facebook & Flickr]

See also: Starchaser Industries on Facebook

This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on pages 18 & 19). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

Share this page: