Children in the Preparatory Department at Manchester High School for Girls are preparing to embark on a voyage of discovery and grow seeds that have been into space as part of Tim Peake’s Principia mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
In September 2015, 2kg of rocket seeds were flown to the ISS where they will spend several months in microgravity before returning to Earth this March. Preparatory pupils at Manchester High will then grow 100 of the seeds alongside ones that have not travelled into space and compare the difference over a seven week period.
The UK Space Agency and the Royal Horticultual Society selected Manchester High School for Girls as one of just 11 in the Greater Manchester area to take part in the project. The school will feed its results back into a national database to be analysed by professional biostatisticians.
The experiment aims to encourage the children to think about how human life could be preserved on another planet and the difficulties surrounding growing fresh food in challenging climates. Which packet of seeds is which will not be revealed until all results have been collected.
Emma Nash, Head of the Preparatory Department at Manchester High, said: “There is obviously a real drive at present to inspire girls to study and build careers using what is known as the STEM subjects; science, technology, engineering and maths.
“At Manchester High School for Girls we have a long and proud history of doing just that and it starts with our youngest girls here in the Preparatory Department.
“Our alumnae boasts an aerospace design engineer as well as Dr Kotska Wallace, Principal Engineer at the European Space Agency. We are thrilled that in June she will travel from her base in The Netherlands to visit our school and see how the girls are progressing with this project.”
The pupils in Manchester High’s Preparatory Department said: “We are all keeping an eye on Tim Peake’s trip into outer space and can’t wait for him to come back with our seeds! Dr Wallace from the European Space Agency was once a pupil here, just like us, and we hope that we can impress her with our growing skills.”