EIGHTY schoolchildren were set the task of launching a little ball into space and parachuting it back down to earth in a technology tournament on Tuesday.

Pupils from Barnard Castle School, Hurworth School, Northallerton School & Sixth Form College, Risedale Sports & Community College in Catterick Garrison, and Thirsk School and Sixth Form College took part in the tournament which was organised by local Rotary clubs.

The competition, at Catterick Garrison Leisure Centre, was in three age groups with varying degrees of difficulty. The children were given wood and rubber bands and all the tools required, and had to design a launcher that would send the ball three metres into space.

The oldest children – those studying for A-levels – also had to get their ball to parachute down and land accurately on top of the launcher.

The winners of the oldest level was a team from Northallerton College comprising Callum Grayson, Nathan Wood, Ryan Holding and Ross Hutton, who all aim to go to university to study design-based subjects.

“It was our cross section that did it,” said Ross. “It was trial and error, and teamwork. With two and three supports on the launcher, the ball went everywhere, but four held it spot in the middle.”

A team from Hurworth School won the foundation level of pre-GCSE pupils and a team from Barnard Castle School won the intermediate level of GCSE pupils. The trophies were presented by Chris Lloyd, of The Northern Echo.

Rotarians from the clubs in Northallerton, Richmond, Thirsk and Wensleydale organised the day.

“Rotary wants to develop young people’s skills, and this is one of a number of projects that are devised nationally and run locally,” said Rotarian Geoff Wall. “The children are given very basic information and working as a team they have to create a design, write up a plan, and then construct and test it,” said Rotarian Geoff Wall.

Similar Rotary initiatives include a young chef and public speaking competitions, and it is the ninth year the technology tournament has been held in north North Yorkshire.