PUPILS at a Littlehampton school are embarking on a voyage of discovery by growing seeds that have been into space.
River Beach Primary School has been chosen to receive a packet of 100 seeds from a batch that was flown to the International Space Station.
The 2kg of rocket seeds were taken up on Soyuz 44S in September and will spend several months in microgravity before returning to Earth in March.
The seeds are part of Rocket Science, an educational project launched by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and the UK Space Agency.
Paula Cooke, year five leader, 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. Our topic of Earth and Beyond will benefit from this exciting project.”
When the seeds arrive at the York Road school, they will be grown alongside others that have not been to space, so that the differences can be measures over seven weeks.
The children will know which seed packet contains which seeds until all results have been collected and analysed by professional biostatisticians.
Sue Bingham, a teacher and governor, said: “The out-of-this-world, nationwide 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.
“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.”
Applications to take part in Rocket Science are still open until March next year, or until all packs have been allocated. Schools and educational groups can visit rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening to apply.