Young space biologists set out on voyage of discovery

Sowing the Rocket Science seeds at St Philips Catholic School in Arundel
Sowing the Rocket Science seeds at St Philips Catholic School in Arundel

Children across the area have embarked on a voyage of discovery as part of a space experiment.

Schools and youth groups are taking part in Rocket Science, an ‘out-of-this-world’ educational project organised by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, in partnership with the UK Space Agency.

Pupils are excited about the space seed mission at River Beach Primary School

Pupils are excited about the space seed mission at River Beach Primary School

The young space biologists have received seeds from the International Space Station and are planting them up to assess how they grow.

The rocket seeds were flown up on Soyuz 44S in September to spend six months in microgravity before returning to Earth.

Each group involved has been given a packet of 100 seeds from space to grow alongside seeds that have stayed on Earth – and compare the differences over seven weeks.

The children will not know which packet of seeds was which until all results have been collected and analysed by professional biostatisticians.

Among those taking part are St Philip’s Catholic School in Arundel and River Beach Primary School in Littlehampton.

Lucy Horne, head teacher at St Philip’s, said: “We are very excited to be taking part in Rocket Science. This experiment is a fantastic way of teaching our children to think more scientifically and share their findings with the whole community.”

Paula Cooke, year-five leader, agreed, adding: “Our topic of Earth and Beyond will benefit from this exciting project.”

Rocket Science is just one educational project from a programme developed by the UK Space Agency to celebrate Chichester astronaut Tim Peake’s Principia mission and inspire young people to look into careers in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects, including horticulture.

The seeds experiment will enable the children to think about how to 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.

Campaign organisers said: “We want pupils to see what growing plants in space can teach us about life on Earth and whether we can sustain human life in space through the production of our own food. It is aimed at inspiring pupils to think scientifically.”

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