Rocket Science

Curriculum+ students at the Gateway Academy have just heard they will be taking part in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Rocket Science experiment.

The RHS Rocket Science project, in partnership with the UK Space Agency, is a UK wide experiment and a fun, interactive way to get students thinking about how plants might grow in space. It will help them understand the difficulties of living, growing and eating in space.

In September 2015, 2kg of rocket seeds were flown to the International Space Station on Soyuz 44S. The seeds were held in microgravity with British ESA astronaut Tim Peake taking charge of them while on the ISS for his Principia mission.

The seeds have now returned to earth and the Gateway Academy is one of 10,000 schools to receive 100 seeds from space. The seeds will be grown alongside those that have not been to space to see if there are any differences in growth. No one at the Gateway Academy will know which seeds have been to space and which have remained on Earth.

Students will care for the seedlings, record their growth and observations over 7 weeks and enter data into a database. After all the data has been collected, the results will be analysed by professional statisticians. Leading scientists from the RHS and European Space Agency will interpret the results and draw possible conclusions, publishing their results on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website.

We will record all our data here over the next 7 weeks. Check out this page to see our progress! 

GA Rocket Seeds
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Tuesday 26 April
Our first seeds are planted!

GA Rocket Seeds Planting 26 Apr 16 00 GA Rocket Seeds Planting 26 Apr 16 01 GA Rocket Seeds Planting 26 Apr 16 02
GA Rocket Seeds Planting 26 Apr 16 03 GA Rocket Seeds Planting 26 Apr 16 05 GA Rocket Seeds Planting 26 Apr 16 11
GA Rocket Seeds Planting 26 Apr 16 10 GA Rocket Seeds Planting 26 Apr 16 12 GA Rocket Seeds Planting 26 Apr 16 07
GA Rocket Seeds Planting 26 Apr 16 16                                     GA Rocket Seeds Planting 26 Apr 16 14
Friday 29 April 2016
Our seeds have started to germinate! 
We can see 24 blue seed leaves and 22 red seed leaves!
Blue Germination Red Germination

Keep an eye on this page to see how they grow, we are very excited to see the first shoots coming up today and can't wait to see which ones grow the most!

Friday 13 May 2016
See below our photographs taken today along with our progress graphs...

GA Seeds Fri 13 May 0 GA Seeds Fri 13 May 1

Day 10

Day 17

Monday 23 May 2016
See how big the plants have grown below...

Blue Seeds

Blue seeds

Red Seeds

Red seeds


Tuesday 7 June 2016
The results!

GA Rocket Science Red

24 Red seeds did not grow

GA Rocket Science Blue

28 Blue seeds did not grow

Plants Alive at 35 days

All seeds germinated at the same time and the students were really excited when the plants started to grow. They were interested in why and how some didn’t! In total, there were 28 blue and 24 red that didn’t grow. The students have regularly watered the plants and turned the trays.

One thing that was interesting for the students was the realisation what rocket is and what it’s used for! They thought that the seeds that went to space would grow better, but looking at the final shoots, there really seems to be hardly any difference whatsoever.

They roughly had the same amount of leaves and height. One was only slightly higher than the other, and this came from the red 140mm and the blue 111.5mm. At Day 21 there was quite a difference between the two in height but by Day 35 they had evened out.

All that needs to happen now is the data collection will be analysed by RHS and the results will be back to school by the end of term. We would really like to know which seeds went to space!

We are looking forward to other experiments that we can take part in. We are going to create a ‘bug hotel’ containing the different habits for all types of bugs and creatures to encourage good pollinators such as hover flies, butterflies and bees etc. This will help our vegetable patch which currently has potatoes, garlic, strawberries, sweetcorn, redcurrants, apples, pears, onions, carrots, radishes. The strawberries are being kept safe until the student's special Cultural Day when they will be watching Andy Murray play tennis during the week of 27 June.

The Big Reveal is Here!

Over 5,400 participants entered their data which has now been sent off for analysis. The RHS will present the results of the experiment in the Autumn in their Rocket Science final report which will be available to all schools and groups who took part.

Red or Blue?

In the meantime, the RHS can now finally reveal the true identity of the seeds! Before Tim went to space, he flipped a coin to decide which pack would contain the space seeds and recorded it on video. Click here to watch the video and to discover the space seeds true identity! Click here to view. If you can’t access YouTube, you can also find the video hereLet us know on Twitter @RHSSchools, whether the result was what you thought using #RocketScience and #redorblue.

Dear Rocket Science participant

We are so excited to announce that the results of our huge science experiment can now be revealed!

Overall we found that on average, the Earth seeds grew better than the space seeds, but not by much. We think this is most likely caused by the space seeds being slightly affected by radiation while on board the ISS. Despite this, they still grew and that is great news as it means there is still potential to grow food on long-term missions, or even another planet in the future!

We have written a published a very special colourful report called ‘Rocket Science: Our Voyage of Discovery’ which is now available to download free from our website. The report contains the results, theories from pupils, comments from leading scientists, quotes, photos and a very special message from Tim.

To download a copy of the report to print and keep, head here:

We would like to thank you all again for being so fantastic and being one of over 8,600 groups to take part in this project. With your help, we have made one small step towards knowing more about growing food in space and one giant leap in inspiring young people all across the UK in science.

We hope to be back in 2018 with another ‘out of this world’ project so watch this ‘space’!

Thank you
The RHS Campaign for School Gardening Team