How Barry Island Primary explored STEM at NASA and SeaWorld

Barry Island Primary School has used the Cornerstones Curriculum since May 2011. In October 2015, to provide pupils with a truly memorable experience, they travelled across the Atlantic to Orlando, USA. Their journey included incredible visits to NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre and SeaWorld.

The aim of the trip was to show the children how STEM can be applied to real life. They also got to see people working in a range of fascinating careers in the sciences, including biology and zoology. The school’s aim was to raise their children’s aspirations and provide them with an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The trip was all about collaboration too. Barry Island worked closely with staff at St Joseph's Roman Catholic School and Evenlode Primary School in Penarth to organise the itinerary. Pupils from both schools took part in the trip and they all worked together on a range of follow-up activities.

Preparing for launch

Before embarking on their great space experience, the children were encouraged to work as a team. They took part in activities that followed the skills framework, including creating a stop motion animation and designing a healthy space snack and packaging.

The children also designed a mission badge, similar to the project astronauts completed before the Apollo missions. They made a proposal video for their badge and posted it on their Hwb blog page. The winning badge was chosen by children from other classes in the school and attached to their luggage.

Orlando, Florida

The Kennedy Space Center


After a long flight, the children spent their first fun-packed day in Orlando looking at the history of rockets. They explored the famous Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Centre, getting up close to discarded and refurbished rockets previously used by NASA. They then took an exciting look at the Atlantis space shuttle and a ride on the simulator.

The experience allowed the children to see some of the things they’d learnt about at home in practice. All of their space-themed preparation really helped them make the most of their visit to NASA.



Day two involved whales and getting very wet! The first stop was at SeaWorld’s Shamu stadium to see a killer whale show. The children got a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the education centre, stepping into the lab to meet the veterinary team and make friends with some rescued manatees.

The children learned about a wide variety of creatures and got to see the Centre’s rescue and rehabilitation facilities. They even got to watch the ultrasound of a pregnant dolphin and visit a sick manatee that was fitted with a custom-made life jacket to help it float. The children later featured the manatee in their school newspaper, First News.

Back in Wales…

Designing life on another planet

The children came back from Orlando with lots of great ideas. A key part of the trip was to make sure that the children used their experience back in the classroom when they got home. Their time at NASA got them thinking about a mini project they could do for Design Technology Week.

They chose to design a Mars colony, making models to help look at scale and consider costings and timescales for the project. They also used their numeracy skills in challenging situations to consider the variables that could affect their colony, from sustainable produce to quarantine for illnesses.

Exploring habitats

During their trip to SeaWorld, the children were asked to take detailed notes about the animals and their habitats. Back in the classroom, they worked in small groups to present their learning to classmates. Not everyone could go on the trip, so the activity allowed the children to share their new knowledge. They also looked at global warming and how it could affect sea habitats around the world.

A job well done

Feedback about the trip has been fantastic from both pupils and parents. It’s helped many children think about a career in science and created a real buzz around STEM at Barry Island Primary School. Teachers are using this enthusiasm to raise the profile of their STEM club and to continue moving STEM forward across the curriculum.

Dominic Broad is the school’s Acting Deputy Headteacher: “At Barry Island Primary School we try to create as many exciting learning opportunities as possible. We believe positive and inspiring learning makes the children excited about coming to school and makes them want to learn. Who knows where our future Cornerstones topics will lead us.”

Any questions?

If you have any questions about Barry Island's trip to Orlando, contact Acting Deputy Headteacher Mr Dominic Broad via twitter @1mrbroad and @atbarryisland.

Cornerstones and STEM

Cornerstones Curriculum is used by more than 1500 schools across the UK. It features a range of STEM activities, all tied to the national curriculum. You can find out more on our Cornerstones Curriculum page.

We also have a product called Love to Investigate, a series of 126 practical science investigations tied to the working scientifically programmes of study. You can learn more about Love to Investigate here on our website too.

For more information, email or give us a call on 03333 20 8000.