All of my schools are taking part in an incredibly exciting experiment to grow seeds that have been in space!
The project, Rocket Science, will give around half a million UK children the chance to learn how science in space contributes 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 02 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 will take charge of the seeds while on the ISS for his Principia mission starting in December. After being held for about six months in microgravity, the seeds will be returned to Earth with astronaut Scott Kelly, currently planned for March 2016.
Once the seeds have returned they will then be distributed to schools signed up to the project. Each participating school will receive 100 seeds that have been on the ISS and 100 seeds that have remained on Earth. The seed packets will be colour coded, however schools will not be told which packet contains which seeds until national results have been published. Online resources to expand student learning will be available on the website of the UK Space Education Office (ESERO) before, during and after the Rocket Science experiment.
More news to follow on this project meanwhile…
Here is an example of some of the other projects I run with my schools. For the enterprise project I work with the same year group from the Spring term all the way through until the end of the summer term. They become a mini food growing business, so they sow the seeds in the spring, nurture them in their classrooms, then plant them on and look after them until they are ready to sell within a retail outlet such as Waitrose, Borough Market or Wholefoods. Pupils learn about marketing, they design their own banner and logos and they weigh and package their own produce. Finally they price their products and then have the experience of letting the general public know what they have grown, how they have grown it and then they hopefully will sell it!
I also run Lessons in Loaf, generously supported by the Worshipful Company of Bakers. The pupils plant their wheat seeds in the Autumn term and then they get to harvest it and turn it into flour and finally a loaf of bread to take home to share with their family. It is a lesson which crosses many curriculum subjects.
I run after school garden clubs and we make all sorts of fun things from mini beast habitats to snail racing and vegetable printing.
I run stalls to sell homegrown school produce at the summer and winter fairs to help raise money for the gardens. The plant stall is loved by parents and teachers and it also helps to bring in the wider community to the school fete.
I have set up a tea garden so that the pupils can learn all about tea, where is it grown, where it is exported to, how it is processed into the different types of tea. They were learning about Fairtrade so we also looked at coffee production and they grew coffee plants in the classroom.