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BioSS statisticians to analyse Rocket Science data

Rocket Science project (courtesy BioSS)
"Our analysis of the combined dataset from schools across the UK along with interpretation of the findings by leading scientists from the RHS and the European Space Agency will make the results of this exciting project widely available and ensure participants feel part of the process of scientific discovery.

Edinburgh-based statisticians from Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS), part of the James Hutton Group, are helping shape the potential future of crop production in space by supporting the Rocket Science educational project, organised by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Campaign for School Gardening in partnership with the UK Space Agency.

Rocket Science will turn over half a million UK schoolchildren into ‘space biologists’, by participating in an experiment which will contribute to the knowledge bank scientists have been building since the beginning of spaceflight 50 years ago. They will also explore whether we can sustain human life in space through the production of our own food.

Two kilograms of rocket seeds (Eruca sativa) blasted into space last year and are at the International Space Station with British ESA astronaut Tim Peake as part of his Principia mission. After several months on board, the seeds will be sent back to Earth and are expected to land in  Kazakhstan in March.

Participating schools will each receive a packet of 100 seeds that have been in space and a packet of 100 seeds that have remained on Earth. One packet will be coloured red and the other blue, and schools won’t know which packet contains which seed until after the experiment.

Schools will grow and compare outcomes such as how many days until the first seed germinates, the percentage of seeds that germinate by the tenth day of the experiment, and the height of seedlings on the 21st day after planting, among others.

The data will be entered into a national online database so that results can be compared across all participating schools in the UK by BioSS statisticians.

Ian Nevison, statistician at BioSS, said: “We have worked successfully with the Royal Horticultural Society over the last seven years, and were delighted when they invited us to be involved in their Rocket Science collaboration with the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency.

“We have been involved in the project from an early stage, helping shape the questions that participating schoolchildren will answer.

“We look forward to the next phase of the project when we receive the data generated by hundreds of thousands of UK schoolchildren. Our analysis of the combined dataset from schools across the UK along with interpretation of the findings by leading scientists from the RHS and the European Space Agency will make the results of this exciting project widely available and ensure participants feel part of the process of scientific discovery.”

The Rocket Science project aims at inspiring pupils to think scientifically and helping them to see the potential of future careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) and Horticulture. Schools, community groups and educational groups of all ages and abilities can apply to Rocket Science by visiting the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website.

To access the free Primary and Secondary Schools Resource packs visit Tim Peake's page on the European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO) website.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/bioss-statisticians-analyse-rocket-science-data on 17/07/19 11:56:05 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.