STEM milestone as SaxaVord hosts first schools open day

SaxaVord Spaceport has proudly hosted its inaugural open day for schools as it gears up its STEM activities. 

Fifty secondary students from Baltasound Junior High School and Mid Yell Junior High School were invited to explore the exciting world of space and rocketry at the spaceport.

The event marked a significant step in engaging young minds with STEM and fostering the next generation of space enthusiasts and professionals. 

In the coming years, a rolling programme of open days will be scheduled with the aim of giving every Shetland pupil the chance of visiting at least once during their time at school.

The event included a presentation from Rhys Williams, project manager for Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA), which is preparing for the first vertical orbital rocket launch from SaxaVord later this year.

Director of facilities Debbie Strang said: “This was a huge first step for us towards our ultimate goal of having every school pupil in Shetland visit the site and see for themselves the exciting and inspiring work that is going on.”

Mark Lawson, head teacher at Mid Yell Junior High School, said: “The pupils from Mid Yell Junior High School secondary department had a great day when they went to visit SaxaVord Spaceport. 

“It was interesting for them to see with their own eyes this project that they have heard about for so long. We really appreciate the effort that went in to organising such an engaging day from all those concerned and look forward to seeing this important development for the North Isles continue to grow.”

Emma Spence, from Developing the Young Workforce, said: “This event was a great opportunity for pupils to learn about the variety of space careers and potential opportunities at SaxaVord Spaceport. Pupils were able to enjoy a variety of hands-on learning experiences developing their skills. It was brilliant for the pupils to hear directly from RFA, the rocket manufacturer and to visit the launch site.”

The open day was packed with a variety of educational and interactive activities. 

Students participated in challenges designed and delivered by Developing the Young Workforce (DYW), the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and SaxaVord Spaceport. 

These activities aimed to provide practical insights into the skills and knowledge required in the space industry, inspiring students to consider future careers in the sector.

A highlight of the day was the guided tour of the Lamba Ness launch site. Students had the unique opportunity to witness the cutting-edge facilities and learn about the sophisticated technology involved in launching rockets. 

This hands-on experience was designed to spark curiosity and excitement about potential careers in the space sector.