Over the past twelve years, Tomatosphere has evolved into a regular component of the science curriculum for more than 16 200 classrooms in Canada and the United States. The Tomatosphere Project Team will continue offering this stellar learning opportunity for the next few years, with the addition of some new sponsors; Let's Talk Science in Canada and First the Seed Foundation in the United States.
In 2014 the project will utilize the 600 000 seeds that were taken to the International Space Station on board the very last US shuttle in July of 2011 and returned to Earth with Commander Chris Hadfield in May of 2013. In total, the seeds spent approximately 22 months on board the International Space Station (ISS) – a record for this project. Teachers will receive two sets of seeds; the second set is a control group that is exactly the same type as the space seeds … except that they have NOT been in space.Students will learn how to conduct a scientific experiment and compare the germination rates of the two groups of seeds.
The basic elements of the Tomatosphere experiment of Tomatosphere will remain for this year — a 'blind test' in which you and your students will not know which of the two packages has been in space and which is the control until completion of the germination process and submission of results. See Teacher Resources - Data collection 2014.
Watching these seeds germinate and grow will encourage classroom dialogue about the elements of life support requirements for space missions - food, water, oxygen and the need to consume carbon dioxide exhaled by crewmembers. Traveling to and from Mars, could take in excess of two years. It is imperative to know how to grow food while on the journey to the Red Planet, the time spent on Mars and on the return journey. The results from your science experiments will help Canadian scientists to understand some of the issues related to long-term space travel.
Optional units are also available for grade 6 and 9, dealing with weather, nutrition and life on Mars.
Tomatoes are practical and valuable plants for space applications. They provide wholesome nourishment, as well as purified water through evaporation from their leaves.
Today's students are the plant specialists, space scientists and Mars explorers of the future! The technical support staff and even the astronauts for future space travel may be in your classroom today! You and your students will not be disappointed in being part of a REAL science project that involves them in providing assistance for future space travel.
The partners in Tomatosphere have developed new optional units for teachers and students - new components that are science-related but also linked to other areas in the curriculum: