On Tuesday 26th April, the LIV Form began their participation in the Royal Horticultural Society and UK Space Agency’s Rocket Science Project, which is giving around half a million UK children the chance to learn how science in space can contribute to our knowledge of life on Earth, using the invaluable expertise of the European Space Agency (ESA) and RHS Science Team.

Two kilograms of rocket (Eruca sativa) seeds were launched on Soyuz 44S on 2nd September 2015, with European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Andreas Mogensen and his crew arriving on the International Space Station (ISS) two days later. British ESA astronaut Tim Peake took charge of the seeds while on the ISS for his Principia mission which started in December 2015 (and which the girls had watched in the Chapel). After being held for about six months in microgravity, the seeds returned to Earth with astronaut Scott Kelly in March 2016.

Since landing, they have returned to the UK and been packaged up with identical seeds that have stayed on Earth. We received two packets of 100 seeds to grow and compare, and we do not know which have been on the ISS and which have stayed here on Earth! We will be recording various measurements over the next five weeks and submitting our results to the RHS, where the results will be analysed by professional statisticians after all the data is collated. Leading scientists from the RHS and the 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 from September 2016, so we can see if our predictions are in line with the well-respected scientific community's findings.

As well as being a fun project and a natural addition to our current plant-growing activities in the School House Garden, this project is aimed at inspiring pupils to think scientifically and to help them to see the potential of future careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) and Horticulture.  Many of the pupils are excited by the idea of being part of a project that explores what growing plants in space can teach us about life on Earth and whether we can sustain human life in space through the production of our own food - just as in the recent Matt Damon movie The Martian, as one girl remarked!