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. Each classroom is sent two packages of tomato seeds. One package contains seeds that have been sent into space and the other package contains “control” seeds, which have been kept on Earth. 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. Travelling 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 scientists understand some of the issues related to long-term space travel. It’s an out-of-this-world opportunity for your students!
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