Norfolk-Africa schools’ space-race challenge seeks sponsor to send winners to visit the Large Hadron Collider

Gavin Paterson with some of the African pupils which the Norfolk-based charity Yellobric has helped.

Gavin Paterson with some of the African pupils which the Norfolk-based charity Yellobric has helped. - Credit: Archant

A unique space-race challenge linking Norfolk and African schools, is hitting new heights and wants a partner to sponsor its top prize.

North Norfolk-based Yellobric uses technology to provide e-learning for pupils in African schools who might otherwise miss out on education.

A key feature of the project is the pioneering Schools SpaceRace challenge, which will see pupils design a spacecraft using a weather balloon with partner schools competing against one another to see which one can launch their craft the furthest into space.

Schools will also research space travel history, learning about Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and the American Apollo space missions.

The charity hopes the fun and educational project, will inspire more young people, especially girls, to take up science careers.

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Yellobric has now set up a school/university partnership with the University of East Anglia, funded by the Research Councils UK; the SAW Trust, which aims to inspire artistic and scientific endeavour in the classroom; the Ogden Trust, which exists to promote the teaching and learning of physics; and the Institute of Physics.

Schools will be working with Raspberry Pi - makers of small and affordable computers - to track the balloon and send back high altitude images using a radio transmitter.

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Yellobric co-founder Gavin Paterson, who farms near Smallburgh, said: 'The programme will inspire a generation of physicists from Norfolk and across the globe.

'In an initiative sponsored by the Research Councils UK, Norfolk schoolchildren were able to talk to British astronaut Tim Peake on the International Space Station just a few weeks ago and in years to come they may be among the scientists who could help put a man on Mars.

'Having run a successful pilot launch in South Africa last year, I know how exciting being involved in something like this can be. It will raise aspirations and empower students, particularly girls, to pursue a career in physics, engineering or maths.'

Yellobric is now looking for a corporate partner to contribute £4,000 to the project and sponsor the prize, a trip for the winning team to CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research which operates the Large Hadron Collider, which discovered the Higgs boson particle in 2012.

A number of Norfolk schools, including the City of Norwich School, Reepham High, Flegg High, Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form, and Norwich School, have expressed interest in taking part and forming bonds with counterparts in Africa.

One school in Africa has already researched, designed, built and tested a craft, inflating a balloon which rose to about 26km, travelling at 80km an hour and eventually crossed into Mozambique.

Partner schools will be in Ethiopia and South Africa and Mr Paterson is happy to talk about the project with other Norfolk secondary schools interested in taking part.

The competition will run over 12 months with students having to hit a number of milestones along the way, keep a video diary and post their progress on social media.

? For more information call Gavin Paterson on 01692 536226 email or visit

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