AMES, Iowa – A group of elementary students from Macksburg, Iowa, won Best Evaluation of Results in NASA’s Plant the Moon Challenge announced at the Plant the Moon Awards Symposium on May 16.
This spring, youth teams from around the globe participated in the challenge to see who could grow the best crops using lunar or Martian regolith simulants. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development, ISU Integrated Pest Management and the NASA Iowa Space Grant Consortium promoted this unique STEM learning opportunity for Iowa youth, and 11 Iowa teams competed.
The winners in the Elementary Division for Best Evaluation of Results went to the MoonShines team members Alexander Wolfe, Daucia Low and Remmington Low. Adult supporters included coach Tracy Wolfe, Iowa State University mentor Rewa Seblani and Iowa 4-H mentor Ellen Lupkes.
The MoonShines team worked to determine whether radish or bush bean would grow better on the moon. They also tested what percentage of lunar soil to Earth soil would produce the best results.
“Our 4-H’ers were very thoughtful and deliberate in their project design, which carried over into their analysis of data and other results,” said Ellen Lupkes, Madison County 4-H youth coordinator. “This group was very interested in STEM so this was a wonderful opportunity for them to further explore.”
The Plant the Moon Challenge was designed as a support to NASA’s Artemis Program to connect space science and planetary research with down-to-earth concepts to introduce students to genuine, rigorous academic research.
“We were very proud to learn that the MoonShines team earned this award. The judges shared that they were very impressed with their presentation of results,” said Sara Nelson, 4-H STEM program specialist and interim director of the NASA Space Grant Consortium. “This experience for all our Iowa teams, gave youth an opportunity to learn more about the processes of science and how we can grow plants on the moon. We look forward to taking part in the competition again next year."
For more information about the Plant the Moon Challenge or Iowa 4-H STEM programming, contact Sara Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or your Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county office.
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Team members show their Plant the Moon process: (A) pots under grow lights; (B) two of the MoonShines team members observe the growth; (C) measuring plant growth; (D) plants growing in the labeled pots.