Some of our pupils are turning their hand to botany this term, as they are currently involved in a scientific experiment with the Royal Horticultural Society. Pupils in Fernworthy Class have 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 spent several months in microgravity before returning to Earth in March 2016. St Mary’s was one of 10,000 schools who applied to receive a packet of 100 seeds from space, which they are growing alongside seeds that haven’t been to space to measure the differences over seven weeks. The children won’t know which seed packet contains which seeds, until all results have been collected by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and been analysed by professional biostatisticians.
The out-of-this-world, nationwide science experiment has enabled the 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. 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.