Hartlepool pupils chosen to grow seeds from space

From left, Class 4, Year 5 & 6 pupils Ffion Stoker, Tapiwa Chitsamatanga, Hollie Greenwell and Liam Tomlin.
From left, Class 4, Year 5 & 6 pupils Ffion Stoker, Tapiwa Chitsamatanga, Hollie Greenwell and Liam Tomlin.

Schoolchildren in Hartlepool are set for a project which is out of this world as they prepare to grow seeds that have been into space.

Hart Primary School and St Peter’s Elwick CE Primary School have been selected to receive a packet of 100 seeds from space.

Pupils will grow them alongside seeds that have not been to space to measure the difference as part of an education project launched by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and the UK Space Agency.

The children will not know which seed packet contains which seeds until all of the results have been sent back to the space programme and analysed by professional biostatisticians.

The differences will be looked at over seven weeks.

The seeds themselves will arrive on the planet next month, having been flown to the International Space Station last September before spending several months in microgravity.

Lyndsey James, a Year 5 and 6 teacher at Hart Primary School, said: “The school became involved after seeing the information about the project on the BBC website.

“We have been following the journey of (astronaut) Tim Peake since we began looking more closely at STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) activities.

“The Year 5 and 6 attended a STEM Space Day at High Tunstall, where we met Helen Sharman – the first British person in space – and our interest has been generated since then.

“As a school, we watched the shuttle take off and followed his journey into orbit.”

To enter the project, Mrs James had to apply for the opportunity by writing a paragraph about why her school should be chosen.

She added: “We are very excited to be taking part in Rocket Science. This experiment is a fantastic way of teaching our pupils to think more scientifically and share their findings with the whole school.

“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 subjects, including horticulture.”

The nationwide science experiment is designed to enable the pupils 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.