Year six pupils at Loughborough Grammar School are preparing to become space biologists 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.
Loughborough Grammar School 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 boys 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 pupils 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.
Form tutor, Mrs Erika Lax, said: “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 school community. This small year group joined Loughborough Grammar School in September. They have an activity session each Monday afternoon during which they tend three narrow, raised beds. They have formed three teams, each in charge of one bed to follow an ‘Edible Garden’ theme – everything on the plot should be edible: vegetables, herbs and flowers. Their enthusiasm for planning what to grow has been evident at every gardening session, however, being boys they are also gripped by space fever. What better way to combine their love of food with their love of all things scientific”.
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.