ISA’s Alton Convent goes Space Age

Reception Rocket2

Pupils at Alton Convent School are preparing to become space biologists and embark on a voyage of discovery 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 will spend several months in microgravity before returning to Earth in March 2016. 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.

Pupils will grow the seeds alongside others that haven’t been to space and measure the differences over seven weeks. The pupils won’t know which seed packet contains which seeds until results from all participating schools have been collected by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and analysed by professional biostatisticians.

The out-of-this-world, nationwide science experiment will enable the students 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.

Alton Convent School pupils benefit from a flourishing STEM outreach program, which has resulted in 5 national award winners and 5 South East England regional champions in 2015 alone. Students also have access to a number of inspirational speakers from the sector as well as an established patron program which includes, CEO of the Women’s Engineering Society, Dawn Bonfield, Raj Long of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Jessica Leigh Jones and Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell FRS, FRAS. Recognised STEM programs are integrated into the curriculum across the prep school, from age 3 onwards; further opportunities continue in the senior school including participation in a Global STEM mentoring network.

Rocket Science is just one educational project from a programme developed by the UK Space Agency to celebrate British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s Principal 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

For more information on the Rocket Science project or RHS Campaign for School Gardening, please contact the Campaign at schoolgardening@rhs.org.uk.