St Albans pupils explore the final frontier as part of Brit astronaut Tim Peake’s space mission

Year 3 pupils on the static bikes

Year 3 pupils on the static bikes - Credit: Archant

Astronaut Tim Peake is not the only person reaching for the stars as pupils throughout the district have recently taken part in a range of space-related activities.

File photo dated 06/11/15 of British astronaut Major Tim Peake, as his launch into orbit next month

File photo dated 06/11/15 of British astronaut Major Tim Peake, as his launch into orbit next month will dominate a conference on UK involvement in human space exploration hosted by the British Aeronautical Society on December 1. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday November 24, 2015. For the first time in 30 years, the UK Government is now showing its support for manned space flight by funding International Space Station (ISS) operations. See PA story SCIENCE Space. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire - Credit: PA

While the astronaut prepares to spend six months carrying out scientific experiments at the International Space Station, children at How Wood Primary School, Spooners Drive, have been exercising alongside him.

Tim, who next month will become the first British European Space Agency astronaut to visit the station, started an initiative to encourage youngsters to exercise with a triathlon-style challenge – a ‘spaceathlon’.

The school needed to see how many kilometres it could complete of the 400km space to earth challenge set by the astronaut, with children peddling stationary bikes, doing shuttle runs, using iPads to locate the Space Station, and designing their own space gym.

Lynne Osborne, deputy head at How Wood, said pupils from reception to Year 6 “smashed” goals set for them on November 16.

Tim also answered tweets from the children, who asked vital questions such as “How do astronauts go to the toilet in space? How are moon buggies designed and how will we grow new plants in space?”

He congratulated pupils and praised them for “beating my 10km run”.

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Also in St Albans, the National Space Academy’s lead physics specialist, Sophie Allan, visited Sandringham School on November 12 as part of its one-day STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) futures fair for Year 9 pupils.

Careers coordinator Carolyn Howgego said that Sophie held a session “which engaged students with sciences and maths, and illustrated numerous pathways into space sector careers in areas such as astronomy, solar system exploration and human spaceflight.

“Students developed an understanding of what it means to work in the frontiers of space and heard how they could be involved in the future of the growing UK space industry.”

David Hassett, Sandringham’s STEM coordinator, said that the National Space Agency’s involvement is part of the school’s Festival of Space, which culminates in a two-day event where pupils will make live contact with Tim Peake after he has joined the Space Station.

Sandringham was the first of just ten schools in the UK to successfully bid for and win the opportunity to make contact with the astronaut.

David said: “We put in a strong bid, and the students are delighted.”