Students at Isambard Community School are preparing to become space biologists and embark on a voyage of discovery by growing seeds that have been into space.
In September 2015, 2kg of rocket seeds were flown to the International Space Station (ISS) on Soyuz 44S where they spent several months in microgravity before returning to Earth in March 2016. The seeds were sent as part of Rocket Science, an educational project launched by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and the UK Space Agency.
Isambard will be one of up to 10,000 schools to receive a packet of 100 seeds that have been returned from the ISS which they will grow alongside seeds that haven’t been to space to measure differences over seven weeks. The students won’t know which seed packet contains which seeds until all results have been collected by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and analysed by professional biostatisticians.
The out-of-this-world nationwide science experiment will enable students to think more about how we could preserve human life on another planet in the future, what astronauts need in order to survive long-term missions in space and the difficulties surrounding growing fresh food in challenging climates.
Dr Cronin, Isambard science teacher, said: “We’re very excited to be taking part in Rocket Science. It’s a fantastic way of teaching our students to think more scientifically and share their findings with the whole community. We’re hoping the seeds will arrive after the Easter holidays ready for our Gardening Club to start the experiment.”
Rocket Science is just one educational project from a programme developed by the UK Space Agency to celebrate British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s Principia mission to the ISS and inspire young people to look into careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, including horticulture.
Applications to take part in Rocket Science are still open and will close in March next year or until all packs have been allocated. Schools and educational groups can apply at rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening.
Follow the project on Twitter: @RHSSchools #RocketScience