The Inspiration:

While acting as the Patron of Reading for The Baird Primary Academy Marcus spent the year guiding students as they worked toward producing their own ‘Charlie Keeper’ themed micro-books. During this period one of the students, having recently read Keepers of the Realms, was overheard saying:

‘When I read Keeper of the Realms I feel as though I’m taken out of this world…’

Both Marcus and the teachers at the Baird Primary Academy thought this was the perfect opportunity to take this statement and run with it. So…we decided to send one of the Keeper of the Realms books into space!”

The Goal:
To send ‘Blood & Fire’ into space via weather balloon to further boost students interest in literacy, creativity and the power of imagination.
To record the project and capture footage of the book as it reached peak altitude.
To tie the act of sending a book into space into a school project that spanned multiple key subjects: English, Maths, Physics, Geography, Information Technology, Engineering and PSHE.
To show students that if they can overcome the obstacles of sending a book into space they can then apply this same drive and application of common sense to overcome all future hurdles and barriers they might encounter in quest of their own dreams and ambitions.

The Project:
Students worked collaboratively to organise a working balloon kit that could carry a 1,000 gram retrievable payload to an altitude of 30,000 to 45,000 metres. The payload contained book, camera, GPS systems, radar reflector and auto-deploy parachute.

The Prize:
It’s been an awesome year working with the students at the Baird Primary Academy. They’ve worked exceptionally hard on their writing and developing their own Keeper of the Realms inspired books. As an added bonus for those that strived to improve their writing we added all students’ names and inserted them inside the payload so that they can now say their names have been sent to space. (Please picture a group of students forever being able to brag that their name has been to space and back. KaPOW!)

The Results:
The launch was a success and we managed to send the balloon and payload up to an altitude of 35,000m. Unfortunately our descent wasn’t as smooth as we had hoped and the payload ended up in the drink several miles off Dover! Fortunately our GPS systems were up to the task and we managed to retrieve both the book and the students’ names before the GPS batteries ran out of power and before the package sank.
In conjunction with the Baird Primary Academy’s Improvement Plan, the project also produced phenomenal educational results. Over the year literacy rates soared:
• 93% year 6 students made expected progress in reading
• 89% year 5 students made expected progress in reading
• Overall The Baird Primary Academy saw a 24% increase in reading compared to the previous year’s published figures.
(Wait…can we hear a little ‘whoop-whoop!’?)

The Tech:
It was a big project and although it was really nothing more sophisticated than releasing a balloon there was still an incredible amount of planning and organisation required!
We used a 12 metre diameter weather balloon that weighs 2,000 grams that produced an ascent rate of 5.5-7mps allowing us to pack a 1000 gram payload.
The payload container was a polystyrene box that added a degree of insulation allowing camera and GPS systems to function at low temperatures. (We added two hand warmers for additional heat.)
Two GPS systems were used to increase recovery chances and overcome redundancy rates. (Allowing us to recover the payload even when it landed in the channel!)

Burst rate and flight predictions were being mapped through these (very cool!) websites:
Burst rate: and
Flight predictor:

Permissions were sought through the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) more info here:

(A big thanks to David Miller at the CAA for being so accommodating. You’re a superstar!)

Photos & Media:

Looking for hi-res images? Pop over to Marcus Alexander’s Facebook page here: for a greater selection of mixed media.

Space starts at the Karman line, 100 kilometres (62 miles) above the Earth’s sea level. We weren’t able to break that barrier with just a weather balloon but we did reach the stratosphere and ‘near-space’ altitudes of 35,000m. At this height we did manage to record ‘Blood & Fire’ floating beneath the balloon with the ‘black of space’ visible in the background. (With students’ uptake in the engineering required for this project there has also been an increase of interest in aviation and aeronautics. Very cool!)

Patron of Reading:
As Patron of Reading for the Baird Primary Academy Marcus worked predominantly with the years 5 and 6. The aim was to develop a hunger for reading with students and to encourage their creativity through writing (oh my days, you need to check out their micro-books; they’re amazing!) The younger year groups were called to action with the announcement of the #CreativityTakesFlight project; with it being such an exciting endeavor it made for an epic rallying point for additional creativity.
To find out more about the Patron of Reading Scheme click here:

Get Inspired:
Creativity rocks and imagination is KING! To promote this and in the hopes that you’re feeling inspired Marcus Alexander wants you (or your students) to get your read on. Fill in this book review template and once you’re done send it to us and we’ll post you a Nibbler the Dragon poster and bookmark as a wee thank you 🙂

Get Involved:
The teachers at the Baird Primary Academy are exceptionally passionate and do all that they can for their students. However if you’d like to get involved in the quest to boost literacy and creativity we’d love to initiate a book drive! Young boys in particular are always easily distracted but we’ve found that graphic novels are a key element as a gateway to the library. If you’d like to donate any graphic novels to the the Baird Primary Academy we promise you they’ll be well received (and more than likely devoured by the students!)

Please send age appropriate (6-11) graphic novels to:
Miss Campbell, Receptionist
The Baird Primary Academy
Parker Road
East Sussex
TN34 3TH

The above slideshow has images from both test and official launch (hence the disparity with cloud layer and distancing of Blood & Fire from the camera frame!)