YOUNG minds were buzzing with discovery at a Science and Space Festival in Otley last week.

The event saw pupils from across the area visit Ashfield Primary School to check out everything from the orbit of the International Space Station to 'Aliens from Planet Early Years'.

Staged by Ashfield and featuring exhibits from children's science museum Eureka!, the Friday, February 26 festival was open to - and included stalls from - the whole Otley Family of Schools.

It also featured a number of special guests including Astrophysicist Melvin Hoare, from Leeds University, and representatives from the Radio Society of Great Britain and Otley Amateur Radio.

Year 6 teacher at All Saints C of E Primary School, Phil Robertson, was helping a group of pupils display a stall about their successful, high altitude weather balloon flight.

He said: "Today has been a lot of fun.

"We have brought in our weather balloon which we set off last year when it managed to go 22.5 kilometres up towards space.

"It was up and back in three hours, which is quite amazing.

"We managed to take a decent video of it, which we've also been showing.

"We launched the balloon from Malham Tarn - it had to be in an officially approved, remote location to make sure we avoided planes - and it parachuted back down to earth and landed in Chesterfield.

"This year's Year 6 are hoping to repeat the launch with their own weather balloon this year."

Westgate Primary School was displaying an Earth vs Mars display that included a model of the Martian surface which was particularly enjoyed by Ashfield's Reception class.

Professor Hoare, meanwhile, was on hand to explain exactly how video and sound messages are being conveyed from the International Space Station to people - including, this year, a number of schools - in the UK.

The link-up is being enabled using amateur radio technology in the participating schools linked to a local dish and the Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, in Cornwall.

During the short communications - limited due to the space station's fast orbit - pupils at selected schools are getting a chance to put questions directly to Tim Peake, who is the first European Space Agency astronaut.

Major Peake also made an appearance at Ashfield Primary last Friday- albeit in cardboard form as part of Eureka!'s visiting exhibit.

Another 'astronaut' from the museum was present, too, to talk about the intricacies of space travel.

Prince Henry's Grammar School students,, meanwhile, put on a popular display showcasing their F1 in Schools competition entry, which involved designing model F1 cars.

Visitors to the science festival were able to view and find out more about the cars - which have earned two teams from Prince Henry's a place in the contest's national final - and have a go on a reflex-testing game.

Year 8 Prince Henry's student Joe Bramham-Butts was among those presenting the stall.

He said: "We asked to into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) class at school and were given the chance to come here today for the festival.

"It's been great fun."

Joe will be in one of the Prince Henry's teams competing in next year's F1 competition.

The scientific fun at Ashfield continued into the night as Dr Marty Jopson - a regular science presenter on the BBC One's The One Show - gave two experiment-packed shows about the dangers of space travel.