Green Fingered Learners meet NASA Astronaut at Exclusive Event

Speaking to Tim Peake was the highlight of an extraordinary few months for a group of Year 7 students from Saltburn Learning Campus; after two months of space study started in Year 6 with the announcement they were successful in being chosen to grow his space seeds!

The seeds were a part of an experiment in conjunction with the Royal Horticultural Society to see if those that had been into space could be successfully grown on their return. If they could, then this would help, for example, in the colonisation of Mars. There were two packets of seeds; one of which had been into space, and the children had to find out which grew best.

When the seeds arrived on campus, the then Year 6 pupils from Saltburn Primary School organised for all age groups within the campus to plant seeds and take part in watching them grow. Everyone was surprised to see they were ‘Rocket seeds’.

Interested in the experiment and how the learners approached it was Saltburn-born NASA astronaut Dr. Nicholas Patrick, who in a Skype conference during the summer spoke about the importance to space travel was this type of study.

The learners also worked with cosmologist Dr. Pete Edwards, from Durham University who enthralled them with information about space. The children also built and launched into flight, rockets with STEM Coordinator Jim Penketh of Redcar & Cleveland College.

After the experiment was over, the results of the seeds growth were sent to the RHS. Now in Year 7, Phoebe Collins, who had been in charge of measuring the plants, said at the end of the experiment that there wasn’t a difference in the growth but just had a feeling one set of seeds had been into space – and she was right.

Then came the opportunity to apply to meet Tim Peake in person. The campus was lucky to be chosen and went to York University to the Principia Space Conference on 12th November meeting with other schools from all over the country.

A group of six students and two members of staff – Elizabeth Axe, Year 6 teacher and organiser of the space project, and Huntcliff Science Technician, Ferrari McArdle – presented a poster at the conference. The highlight was to hear a talk and to meet Tim Peake in person. Connor Higgins, also in Year 7, was thrilled to meet his hero and spoke about how Tim took the time to meet everyone there and shake their hands and talk about his work on the International Space Station. He said it was the chance of a lifetime.

Mrs Axe said, ‘Tim Peake’s experiment led the way for a wonderful study of the world of astronauts, space and the possibility of jobs in the Space Industry. It was marvellous and inspiring to meet Tim Peake and others from the European Space Agency’.