Students at Minsthorpe Community College are preparing to become space biologists and embark on a voyage of discovery by growing seeds that have been into space.
In September, 2kg of rocket seeds were flown to the International Space Station (ISS) on Soyuz 44S where they will spend several months in microgravity before returning to Earth in March 2016. The seeds have been sent as part of Rocket Science, an educational project launched by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and the UK Space Agency.
Minsthorpe will be one of up to 10,000 schools to receive a packet of 100 seeds from space, which they will grow alongside seeds that haven’t been to space and measure the 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 the students to think more about how we could preserve human life on another planet in the future, what astronauts need to survive long-term missions in space and the difficulties surrounding growing fresh food in challenging climates.
Mrs Martin, Science Teacher at Minsthorpe, says: "We are very excited to be taking part in Rocket Science. This experiment is a fantastic way of teaching our pupils to think more scientifically and share their findings with the whole community. The college’s own Gardening Club will be starting this half term where we will be clearing the area ready to start planting in the greenhouse and making insect habitats. We will also be researching how to make our pond more attractive to wildlife." Any students wishing to take part will need parental permission to attend so they need to come and see Mrs Martin or Mrs Fish in Science to collect a letter.
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.