Out of this world gardening at Plockton High School

Plockton pupils Calum Win and Anna MacRae

Plockton pupils Calum Win and Anna MacRae

An out of the world gardening experience is set to start at Plockton High School as pupils prepare to take delivery of seeds from outer space.

Last September, 2kg of rocket (Eruca sativa) seeds were flown to the International Space Station on Soyuz 44S to spend several months in microgravity before returning to Earth in March this year. The seeds were sent as part of Rocket Science, an educational project launched by the Royal Horticulture Society campaign for school gardening and the UK Space Agency.

Plockton High School will be one of up to 10,000 schools to receive a packet of 100 seeds from space, which they will grow alongside regular seeds, and will compare the differences over seven weeks. The students taking part — Matthew Goodman, Anna Macrae, Calum Win, Craig Docherty, Iona MacColl and Niall MacLean — won’t know which seed packet contains which seeds until all the results have been collected by the RHS campaign for school gardening and analysed by professional biostatisticians.

Matthew Goodman hard at work on the project

Matthew Goodman works on the project

Matthew Goodman and Nial MacLean

Matthew Goodman and Nial MacLean

The out-of-this-world, nationwide science experiment will enable the students to think more about how we could preserve human life on another planet in the future, what astronauts need to survive long-term missions in space and the difficulties surrounding growing fresh food in challenging climates.

Plockton High School Biology and Science teacher Andrew McGrath said: “We are very excited to be taking part in Rocket Science. This experiment is a fantastic way of teaching our students to think more scientifically and share their findings with the whole of Plockton High School. Rocket Science is just one educational project from a programme developed by the UK Space Agency to celebrate British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s principal mission to the ISS and inspire young people to look into careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, including horticulture.”

Craig Docherty and Iona MacColl with a display board explaining the project

Craig Docherty and Iona MacColl with a display board explaining the project