Children at a primary school in Bulwell are taking part in an ‘out-of-this-world’ project by growing seeds in their classroom that have been sent into space.
The Rocket Science educational project is a nationwide scientific experiment that will turn the year-six youngsters into space biologists and take them on a voyage of discovery.
Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Catholic Academy, of Piccadilly, is one of 10,000 schools across the country involved in the experiment, which should teach children how science in space contributes to our knowledge of life on earth.
It all began in September when two kilograms of seeds were flown from Florida on the Soyuz 44S spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS), where they will spend several months in microgravity before returning to Earth next March.
The Our Lady pupils will then receive a packet of 100 seeds from space, which they will grow alongside seeds that have remained on Earth. They will measure the differences over seven weeks, under the watchful eye of teacher Emma Braisby, and input the results into a national database.
The children won’t know which packet contains which seeds until all the results have been collated by the UK Space Agency and the Royal Horticultural Society, who have organised the project. and have been analysed by professional biostatisticians.
Head teacher Celine Toner 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 school community.”
Those findings should enable the children to think more about how human life could be preserved 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 has been devised to mark the Principia mission of British astronaut Tim Peake to the ISS next month, which Our Lady pupils are planning to follow via a live Twitter feed.
It also aims to inspire young people to look in to careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, including horticulture.