British astronaut Major Tim Peake’s blast off from the Baikonour Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, has captured the imagination of many primary pupils (and their teachers!). Thousands amazing displays and stories have been produced by children across the country.

The major will be spending six months on the international space station and during this time he will be communicating with schools as well as carrying out experiments. He has spent six years preparing for this mission and is Britain’s first man in space.

Major Tim’s adventure has taken me back to April 1961 when as an eleven year old I was delivering morning newspapers to residents of Rock Ferry – eleven year olds were allowed to do this in 1961! There was no internet then and newspapers, radio and television were the main providers of news. On April 12th the papers were full of stories and photographs relating Yuri Gagarin who made the very first space orbit of the earth. This story had a massive impact – apart from the scientific achievement there was the political fallout as Russia had beaten America into space.

The event excited the world and this small child who immediately started dreaming of taking space flights across the universe to distant planets and discovering alien worlds and new civilizations. This has yet to happen although man has landed on the moon!

Of course many held the view then, as they do now, that space exploration is a total waste of resources which would be better directed to improving the lot of the current world’s population.

Space research and exploration is incredibly expensive which has meant that nations have had come together and co-operate to develop this great scientific project. This brings to mind many of the comments of previous astronauts and cosmonauts where they remark on being in space made them realize that we all live on one planet and all our futures are interconnected and co-operation beats negative competition when it comes to human progress. As we reach the various festivities at this time of year there is perhaps a lesson here!

 

How have your pupils reacted to this news story?

 

Have you used this event in your lessons? If so perhaps you would like to share your experience, ideas and outcomes?