Lovinggood Middle School’s Tomatoes are out of this World! (Literally)

The Lovinggood Middle School FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) classes are participating in a program- “Tomatosphere.” The tomato seeds were transported into space on the International Space Shuttle-The Dragon X!   These seeds were delivered to Lovinggood where they were germinated, nurtured and planted by the students.

Lovinggood’s FACS class applied to the First the Seed Foundation to participate in a blind germination study involving two sets of seeds: a control group that was earth-bound and a group that was subjected to space conditions. The Heinz corporation provided the seed packets. At Lovinggood, each seed was planted, watered and provided sunlight and warmth.  The students documented the germination time, the growth and the conditions affecting their growth. The documentation was recorded and submitted.  At that time, the teacher, Dawn Castleberry, was informed of the “source” of the two sets of seeds.  The seeds that were flown in space germinated almost twice the number of the earth-bound seeds. The twenty one plants have recently been planted into the school garden beds for summer harvest. In addition, lessons were created about the importance of space exploration to our daily lives, the use of virtual reality goggles to simulate space travel and numerous S.T.E.M. activities related to problem solving and teamwork.

There is excitement in teaching about space exploration!  The skills and processes of scientific experimentation allow the students to investigate the effects of the space environment on the growth of food that will inevitably support long-term human space travel.  Tomatoes were selected because they are practical and valuable plants for space applications. They provide wholesome nourishment, as well as purified water through evaporation from their leaves.

Tomatosphere™ “engages students in real scientific processes that teach and reinforce inquiry skills, while they explore concepts related to plants, space, careers, nutrition and agriculture.” Not only were the tomatoes out of this world, but the the educational topics centered on “Tomatosphere” were as well!

Jacquelina Brown, Supervisor
Career • Technology • Agriculture Education

Contributing Author: Dawn Castleberry, Sapph Espinoza

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