(Originally posted on Mrs. Rankin's "Enrichment at RES" blog.)
This year students from Richmond Elementary School are participating in the TomatoSphere project in third grade to connect with their interdependence science unit. This is an amazing opportunity to participate in a real citizen science project. Last Friday we planted our blind study seeds as well as made predictions as to which seeds would yield the best tomato plants. Over the next few weeks we will watch and record our findings.
Here is information about this project as described on the TomatoSphere website http://tomatosphere.org:
What is Tomatosphere™?
Tomatosphere™ uses the excitement of space exploration to teach the skills and processes of scientific experimentation and inquiry. Students investigate the effects of the space environment on the growth of food that will inevitably support long-term human space travel.
Pictured above is NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly with 600,000 Tomatosphere™ seeds. These space-faring seeds will be distributed to about 18,000 classes in Canada and the US during the 2015-16 school year. The seeds were launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on board SpaceX’s Dragon on April 14, 2015 and will return to Earth after spending 5 weeks in space.
What does the program involve?
Each classroom is sent two packages of tomato seeds. One package contains seeds that have been sent into space or treated in space-simulated conditions. The other package will contain "control" seeds, which have not been in space. Through the Tomatosphere™ project, students will learn how to conduct a scientific experiment and compare the germination rates of the two groups of seeds. Tomatosphere™ relies on a "blind test" in which educators and students will not know which of the two packages are the "space" seeds and which are control seeds until the germination process is complete and results have been submitted.Watching these seeds germinate and grow will encourage classroom dialogue about the elements of life that support the requirements for space missions:- food, water, oxygen and the need to consume carbon dioxide exhaled by astronauts. Traveling to and from Mars could take more than two years, therefore it is vital to know how to grow food while astronauts make the journey to the Red Planet, spend time on Mars and make the return journey back to Earth.
The results from your Tomatosphere™ science experiments will help Canadian scientists understand some of the issues related to long-term space travel. It’s an out-of-this-world opportunity for your students!
Why grow tomatoes in space?
Tomatoes are practical and valuable plants for space applications. They provide wholesome nourishment, as well as purified water through evaporation from their leaves.
All the seeds are planted! One tray for each Grade 3 class
Tiny precious experimental seeds and careful scientists at work!
Students predicting which seeds will grow the most tomatoes
Thinking about ensuring this is a fair experiment.