Schools across the UK have received a special video message from British European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake. Tim, who is currently on board the International Space Station, is calling on them to help the RHS with a space food mission.
This special mission is part of RHS Campaign for School Gardening and UK Space Agency educational initiative Rocket Science, which will give up to half a million young people the chance to grow rocket seeds that have travelled in space.
The video message comes direct from the Columbus module, a laboratory on the space station, which is orbiting the Earth at 1,700 mph (2736km/h). In the unique broadcast, Tim can be be seen floating in the laboratory with the rocket seeds while encouraging schools to get involved in this exciting project.
Seeds in space
In September 2015, 2kg (4.4lb) of rocket seeds were flown to the International Space Station where they will orbit the Earth until March 2016, when they are due to return with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly. In April this year, up to 10,000 schools will grow and compare the seeds flown to space with seeds that have stayed on Earth as part of the nationwide experiment.
Participating schools will receive a teaching pack containing a packet of seeds from space and a packet that have remained on Earth, a booklet outlining the main experiment, a poster to record results, stickers and more.
Following the experiment procedure, pupils will embark on a 35-day voyage of discovery to find out what growing plants in space can teach us about life on Earth and whether we can sustain human life in space in the future. Results will be collected and analysed by biostatisticians and published later in 2016, feeding into the real life work going on in space science research.
Two additional suites of resources (aimed at primary and secondary aged pupils) are available to download from the European Space Education Resource Office UK website to enhance learning around the issues of growing food in space, nutrition and plant mutations.
Children and young people from early years right up to university level - and all abilities - are welcome to take part in the initiative. To take part in Rocket Science, organisations will be asked to either log into the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website or become a member of the Campaign. Membership is free and includes many benefits including a free welcome pack.
The RHS Campaign for School Gardening will be accepting applications for Rocket Science until March 2016 when the seeds return to Earth. Find out more and sign up.
Organisations can follow the mission with the RHS and get involved on Twitter by tweeting @RHSSchools, using #RocketScience, by blogging about their own seed growing journey of discovery, and sharing the results of their food growing experiments online.