A Wirral primary school is set to inspire the next generation of space biologists as it embarks on an innovative science project.
Pupils from Mersey Park Primary School in Higher Tranmere are set to receive a shipment of seeds that until recently were orbiting the earth inside the International Space Station as part of Major Tim Peake’s mission on Soyuz 44S.
The seeds were sent into space as part of Rocket Science, an educational project launched by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and the UK Space Agency.
They arrived back on Earth on March 2, along with Commander Scott Kelly of NASA and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov.
Mersey Park will receive a packet of 100 seeds from space, which they will grow alongside seeds that haven’t been to space.
Pupils will care for the seedlings, record their growth and observe them over seven weeks, entering their findings into a database.
The pupils won’t know which seed packet contains the seeds which have been to space and those which have remained on earth.
The results will be analysed by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and professional biostatisticians.
Rebecca Tootell, the school’s science co-ordinator, said: ‘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, to contribute their findings to a national experiment and to share their learning with the whole school community."
The project is being run with the support of Kate Smith, a school volunteer who runs the gardening club.
Cllr Tony Smith with Year 3 pupils Millie and Luke and gardening club leader Mrs Kate Smith
Councillor Tony Smith, Wirral cabinet member for children and families, said: ‘This is a very interesting project that will hopefully inspire Wirral pupils with an interest in space, science and biology.
"The mission by Major Tim Peake has been a very high profile event and it is good to see our schools taking the lead in demonstrating the importance of scientific research to the next generation.’
The out-of-this-world, nationwide science experiment will enable the pupils 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 Major 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.
Follow the project on Twitter: @RHSSchools #RocketScience