New Partnerships Launch Tomatosphere STEM Project into U.S. Classrooms.
A commercial resupply mission (SpaceX-9) launched today from Cape Canaveral, FL to ferry supplies and science to the International Space Station. Onboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship are thousands of pounds of research hardware, science experiments and crew supplies—and 1.2 million tomato seeds.
The 1.2 million seeds launching aboard SpaceX-9 will mark a significant next step for the education program, Tomatosphere. Tomatosphere has developed a curriculum for educators and students to conduct their own plant biology experiments in their classrooms using space-flown tomato seeds. The program uses the excitement of space exploration to teach the skills and process of scientific experimentation and inquiry. Using the Tomatosphere curriculum, students compare the germination rates of two groups of seeds—spaceflown and a control group that hasn’t been in space. Students submit their results at the end of the experiment as a notable contribution to space science. The launch of SpaceX-9 will see the expansion of the Tomatosphere program into the United States.
“More than 500,000 students across North America have had the incredible experience of participating in this unique, hands-on science program,” says Wayne Gale, President of First the Seed Foundation, the organizer for Tomatosphere, “We’re thrilled to see this engaging, seed-based curriculum expanding to reach even more students in the coming year.”
Tomatosphere has been operating successfully in schools throughout Canada since 2002. The program has expanded every year to reach over 17,000 classrooms. Now with support from the First the Seed Foundation (FTSF) and the Center for the Advancement of Science In Space (CASIS), Tomatosphere looks to significantly expand its reach to classrooms across the United States. Aligning with FTSF and CASIS will help Tomatosphere leverage new communication channels to connect classrooms to the program as well as integrate the Tomatosphere curriculum into ISS National Lab education programming
“We’re thrilled to partner with this cutting-edge program that’s bringing science to life—through seed–for the next generation,” said American Seed Trade Association President & CEO Andrew LaVigne. “Seed is truly the foundation of life, and the continued exploration and understanding of plant science is key to unlocking the solution to so many of the challenges we face as a global society today and into the future.”
The Tomatosphere program is very accessible for students and educators and can be administered in a variety of learning environments. Through the Space Station Explorers program, developed by CASIS, Tomatosphere will offer another exciting opportunity for students to get involved with ISS National Lab research.
“We’re proud to support the expansion of the Tomatosphere program as it will create many authentic learning experiences in classrooms across the country that will engage students in plant biology and space science and that is very exciting for our team” said Ken Shields, CASIS Director of Education. “This program will allow us to illustrate the process of space research as educators and students follow the journey of the seeds from space to their classroom. We’re optimistic that Tomatosphere will flourish in the United States, through the help of the ISS National Lab, and help us connect even more student communities to the space station.”
Tomatosphere aims to engage and inspire young minds while contributing to important and current research. The launch of SpaceX-9 marks a milestone for Tomatosphere as it continues its mission with new partners, but it will also signify a tremendous opportunity as the program showcases the importance of space science to the next generation of explorers.
To register or to learn more about the Tomatosphere program, visit First the Seed Foundation