Forty pupils at Abbot’s Hill School are practicing becoming 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 spent several months in microgravity before returning to Earth in March. 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.
Abbot’s Hill are one of up to 10,000 schools to receive a packet of 100 seeds from space, which they are growing alongside seeds that haven’t been to space. The girls are observing the plants over a period of seven weeks and making detailed measurements that they will then send off for analysis. The pupils don’t know which seed packet contains which seeds until all of the results have been collected by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and analysed by professional biostatisticians.
The out-of-this-world science experiment will enable the children 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.
Abbot’s Hill School are delighted to be taking part in some extended research for Rocket Science, looking at whether the nutritional content of the mature rocket grown has been compromised by the seeds being in space. This research is important to know whether astronauts can be fed sufficiently with crops stored and grown in space in future.
Mrs Bachour, teacher and science subject co-ordinator says: “Our team of girls have taken on their responsibility with great maturity. They have been looking after the seeds and recording their findings accurately. We have 40 children from Years 3 to 8 working together in mixed aged group teams, and they have supported each other and shared their interest in science. The whole of Abbot’s Hill are excited to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and experiencing science first hand.”
The School would like to thank Notcutts Garden Centre in St Albans for kindly providing all of the equipment needed for 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.
Follow the project on Twitter: @RHSSchools #RocketScience