St George Christian School joins space wattle program

Blasting off: (L to R) Annabel Combe, Michelle Bright, Novy So, Karen Binns and Vas Simmons are excited to be part of the program. Pictiure: Supplied
Blasting off: (L to R) Annabel Combe, Michelle Bright, Novy So, Karen Binns and Vas Simmons are excited to be part of the program. Pictiure: Supplied

St George Christian School is taking a giant leap thanks to a program that is sending native golden wattle seeds into space to investigate the impact of space travel on plants.

The school, which has campuses at Hurstville and Ramsgate, has been chosen to take part in the "What'll Happen with the Wattle?" program being run by One Giant Leap Australia Foundation.

The foundation is sending native golden wattle seeds to the International Space Station next month as part of a collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The seeds will be in space for six months, before returning to Australia in time for Science Week 2021.

The program is supported by the Australian Space Agency and is open to schools, Scouts groups and Australian Air Force Cadets across Australia.

After entering a competition, more than 150 groups were chosen to receive both the wattle seeds that have flown to space and others that have not.

They will germinate and grow their seeds, and record data about seed growth, which will be uploaded to the "What'll Happen to the Wattle?" app.

Throughout the program, the foundation will run teleconferences and provide educational support to participating groups.

After one to two years, a nationwide map will be created to identify the location of Australia's 'space wattle' trees.

St George Christian School science teacher Michelle Blight said the program was a golden opportunity for the school to be part of history while furthering students' STEM studies.

"The What'll Happen to the Wattle?" project will be integrated into our year 9 STEM program in a student-led design project that would marry authentic learning with challenging fun," she said.

"This is a new possibility to inspire our students to participate in collaboration that engages them in thinking about space, the environment, plant growth conditions and allows them to wonder at our majestic world.

"It is a chance to raise our students' awareness of the importance of plants in our environment and the sustainability issues in our growing city."

Next year marks the school's 40th anniversary, and will also see the completion of a new campus building.

"The One Giant Leap project will give our students the opportunity to create a native garden to connect our built environment with natural surroundings, whilst studying the impact of space on plants," said ICT teacher Karen Binns, who initiated the project.

"These seeds could be the start of a beautiful paradise for our school.

"From small wattle seeds, wonderful and inspiring things can grow."