The students in the hothouseKesgrave High School has an ambitious plan: to send a balloon into space. The school’s space club want to send a helium balloon up 25 miles to capture images and video from the edge of space.

On their last attempt when they eventually found the balloon the camera was smashed and they couldn’t retrieve the pictures. They need help so people from Adastral Park stepped in to help get the project – called Stratos – off the ground.

John Bayle, from BT, is a IT ambassador and got involved in Project Stratos when he saw a presentation from the space club: “In my role in BT I am a platform director for the engineering workforce management systems, and part of that includes tracking the whereabouts of 20,000 engineers.” So John approached the teacher and offered his help to find the balloon quicker next time. John, along with Phil Lennard, Mike Ashwell and Clare Lawrence (all from BT), linked up with two external companies, Trackaphone and Automated Designs, to put together a hothouse at Adastral Park to help the club find a solution and ideas on how to publicise their efforts in the community.

One of the students commented on the hothouse: “The day was great! The fast paced, high intensity movement of the day gave us an insight into producing something in a professional environment. I’ve found some of the things – such as presenting and developing ideas from set aims – already helping my work at school.”

John concluded: “It was fantastic to run a hothouse where we used BT’s problem solving techniques to help solve a science project. For me the real value was learning that it isn’t just about technology but about involving everyone – teachers, parents, community and other students – who will all benefit from the science project. It was so much more than taking pictures from the edge of space, but the whole journey of how we got there.”

The next stage is for the students – who ranged from ages 11 to 18 – to put together a project plan and a prototype with the aim of launching in July.