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Science

ROCKET SCIENCE PROJECT

On 2 September 2015, two kilograms of rocket seeds travelled from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on the Soyuz 44S rocket to the International Space Station (ISS). The seeds were stored in microgravity by Tim Peake (the first British ESA astronaut) before their return to Earth in Spring 2016. Here at Grimes Dyke, we are taking part in the Rocket Science project to investigate whether their space journey has changed the seeds and their growing capability in any way.

On 20th April 2016, a group of Year 5 scientists set up the experiment with 100 rocket seeds from a red packet and 100 rocket seeds from a blue packet. One packet contained seeds that were with Tim Peake in space and the other contained seeds that had remained on Earth. We have no idea which packet is which!

The seeds have all been sown in individual units and have been labelled R1-100 or B1-100 depending on the packet they came from. These have been left in good lighting conditions and will be watered and turned 180degrees every two days. The experiment will run for 35 days and the scientists have various tasks to complete over the 5 week investigation, collecting data which will be fed back into the national database run in conjunction with Royal Horticultural Society, UK Space Agency and European Space Agency.

We are really excited to be taking part in such an amazing experiment that could have an impact on how food is grown.

DAY 3 UPDATE, Friday 22.3.16: Watered and turned 190degrees, we are leaving the seeds alone for their first weekend. I wonder what we'll come back in to on Monday morning...

DAY 6 UPDATE, Monday 25.4.16 : Our seeds have begun to grow! Watered and turned 180degrees.

DAY 8 UPDATE, Wednesday 27.4.16: The seedlings are looking really healthy. A few tiny shoots are still popping up each day. Watered and turned 180degrees.

DAY 10 UPDATE, Friday 29.4.16: Today we took details about how many of the seeds had germinated. The least number was in Blue 4 with 72%; the highest was in Blue 3 with 96%...so no clues there. Watered and turned 180degrees.

DAY 14 UPDATE, Tuesday 3.5.16: The seedlings have survived the bank holiday weekend and the sonic boom from last night! Phew! Early morning watering and turned 180degrees as we weren't here yesterday to do it.

DAY 15 UPDATE, Wednesday 4.5.16: Watered and turned 180degrees. We're back on track.

DAY 16 UPDATE, Thursday 5.5.16: We noticed some of the seedlings sprouting their first 'true' leaves after the weekend. This is when the plants first show that they will produce the usual rocket leaves. A picture of them is below.

DAY 17 UPDATE, Friday 6.5.16: The seedlings are doing really well. We've counted how many of them are still alive and we've lost one but gained another 3! This information has been turned into a percentage for each replicate (or tray) and recorded on our data chart which will be uploaded at the end of the experiment. All plants watered and turned 180degrees.

DAY 20 UPDATE, Monday 9.5.16: Everything is continuing to grow. All plants watered and turned 180degrees.

DAY 21 UPDATE, Tuesday 10.5.16: Today we had to choose the tallest seedling from each replicate and measure it in mm. This information was then recorded on our data chart. The tallest overall was 72mm...and from a blue replicate.

DAY 22 UPDATE, Wednesday 11.5.16: All plants watered and turned 180degrees.

DAY 24 UPDATE, Friday 13.5.16: All plants watered and turned.

DAY 27 UPDATE, Monday 16.5.16: All plants watered and turned.

 

DAY 28 UPDATE, Tuesday 17.5.16: Today we had to find the average mean height of the leaves on 5 randomly selected plants for each replicate. We used a computerised random number generator to find the numbers of five randomly selected seedlings for each replicate (eg. B68). We then counted the leaves on each of the five seedlings, added them together and divided by 5 to find the average number of leaves for the replicate. The data was recorded on our data chart.

 

DAY 29 UPDATE, Wednesday 18.5.16: All plants watered and turned.

 

DAY 31 UPDATE, Friday 20.5.16: The original leaves of the seedlings are beginning to wither. The true rocket leaves (those that you would eat) are all coming through well though. All plants watered and turned.

 

DAY 34 UPDATE, Monday 23.5.16: Only two more days of the experiment left! I’m not sure they’ll be ready for a salad any time soon but our last day of recording data for the Space Agency is tomorrow. All plants watered and turned.

DAY 35 UPDATE, Tuesday 24.5.16: We have reached the end of the 35 day experiment! To finish off our data collection we counted how many seedlings are still alive in each replicate and then turned these into percentages. We've lost a few seedlings but most have survived the last 5 weeks. All plants have been watered and we'll decide now where to plant them to see how they get on as outdoor plants. We're still none the wiser as to which seeds were in space so we'll have to wait until next half term when we get a message from Tim Peake letting us know whether it was the red packet or the blue packet.