Rocket seed turns pupils into intergalactic growers

Gardeners from outer space. From left, St Botolphs School year six students Rhianna, Erin and Charlotte with astronaut Tim Peakes rocket seeds.
Gardeners from outer space. From left, St Botolphs School year six students Rhianna, Erin and Charlotte with astronaut Tim Peakes rocket seeds.

Pupils from a Sleaford school have had an out of this world gardening experience working with British astronaut Tim Peake.

The year three and six children of St Botolph’s Primary school at Quarrington were lucky enough to be selected to participate in the spaceman’s Rocket Science project.

Science teacher Julie Morton explained that 2kg of rocket seed has been cultivated and harvested on board the International Space Station and brought back to earth to offer schools the chance to conduct experiments with it in conjunction with the Royal Horticultural Society and the European Space Agency.

Each participating school has been given one packet containing seeds from space and another with common earthbound seeds from the salad crop. But no-one at the school knew which was which.

The year three pupils did the planting and year six children have been monitoring, watering and turning them regularly.

Mrs Morton said: “We have been growing both, as per the instructions for 35 days.”

Light conditions, heat and water have to be the same for both to carry out a balanced experiment and all observations and measurements of size, colour and state of the plants has been carefully recorded on a chart and on a designated website.

She said some seedlings have not grown as well as others - the children thought these must be the seeds from space.

Year six pupil Erin said: “I think the lack of gravity in space might have affected them as humans’ muscles can go mushy if not used and the air might have been different.”

Fellow pupil Rhianna considered: “I think their roots might not have known which way to grow because the zero gravity might of confused them.”

Sadly, for health and safety reasons, none of the plants could be eaten, but they would soon hear in a broadcast from the space station by Tim Peake which seeds were truly extra-terrestrial.