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Joseph Clarke School takes part in 'Rocket Science'

Joseph Clarke School is taking part in a science experiment run by the Royal Horticultural Society to look at how spending time in space effects plant seeds.

Last September The RHS sent up 2kg of seeds to the International Space Station,  where they orbited the Earth until last month. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly bought them back to Earth and they have been distributed to schools in the UK, together with an identical set of seeds which have stayed on Earth. The students will be comparing how the two sets grow.

Lesley Haley, a Teaching Assistant at Joseph Clarke School and member of the Royal Horticultural Society first saw the project advertised and applied on the school's behalf, not really thinking we would be selected.  Clearly the essay that she had to write as part of the application — explaining why the school deserved it did the job and the school was successful. 

Teacher Julia Hodge has taken on the project with her class and two batches of seedlings labelled 'red' and 'blue' are now growing on her classroom window sill. In the best scientific traditions, no-one at the school knows whether it is red or blue which journeyed to space.

Pupils will take 9 measurements over 35 days collecting data  germination, growth, leaf count and plant height.  Then they will enter all of the results on a special RHS Web portal  and the results from all schools will analysed by statisticians. Scientists from the RHS and European Space Agency will interpret the results and draw possible conclusions. An online report will also be made available on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website in September

British astronaut Tim Peake with the packets of seed  (photo: NASA/ESA)
British astronaut Tim Peake with the packets of rocket seed  (photo: NASA/ESA)
Students hold trays of spacefaring and Earth-bound seedlings with Lesley Haley (left) and Julia Hodge
pictures of the seed trays
Back on Earth, the seeds are now growing - but which went to space 'Red' or 'Blue'?