STUDENTS at Beaumont Secondary School have spoken exclusively to the Review about a rocket they have built which takes two eggs nearly 900 feet up and returns them safely to ground.

The five, all 16 or 17, have demonstrated their device works to an assessor, and will match it against other competing schools.

Matthew Harrop, 16, said: "It's been fantastic.

"Every time it has been launched, it is a joy.

"I am planning to be an aeonautical engineer, and this is a fantastic way to get knowledge in that field ."

Ignited by a battery-powered spark, the ammonium perchlorate fuel explodes and shoots the laminated cardboard rocket into the sky.

At its zenith, a second, smaller explosion shoots out two polyester parachutes, which return the rocket containing the eggs gently to the ground.

The competition specifies a minimum height of 750 feet in 45 seconds, but the Beaumont rocket, which carries an altimeter, has reached 895 feet.

It is the second device to be built - the prototype was too heavy, and disintegrated on its third flight.

The current version has flown five times on farmland between Sandridge and Hatfield, but the students are now perfecting a third to take to the competition at Charterhouse School near Guildford, Surrey over Easter.

If they do well, they could be taking their rocket to an international contest in the USA.

Simon Richenbach, also 16, said: "It has been a really fun thing to do, testing us in quite a few areas - science, technology and maths."

Science teacher Stephen Turner said: "The competition has been a real learning experience for the boys.

"Apart from the process of designing and building the rocket, during which they had to get to grips with complex scientific concepts, they also had to apply for an explosives licence to store, purchase and transport the rocket motors.

"We are understandably very proud of the boys' achievement."

The Beaumont project received financial and technical help from the University of Hertfordshire and local firms Astrium-Eads, and Faber Maunsell.