Iowa STEM Educators Encouraged to Register for NASA Plant the Moon Challenge

October 28, 2021, 9:44 am | Valyn Bodensteiner, Sara Nelson

Plant the Moon Challenge.AMES, Iowa – The Plant the Moon Challenge is a global science experiment, learning activity and inspirational, project-based-learning challenge to see who can 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 are promoting this unique STEM learning opportunity for Iowa youth.

Educators are invited to register teams of 10 for this learning opportunity. Teams will be entered into one of four divisions: primary (youth in grades 1-8), secondary (youth in grades 9-12), college (post-secondary) or professional (adults and organizations). The program kicks-off at the end of February 2022 with experiments being conducted in March through April. Teams must prepare and submit a report for NASA scientists by the end of April and a closing symposium and awards ceremony will be held in May.

Registration for the challenge costs $399 per Simulant Kit; however, the first 10 teams that register for the Iowa program will receive free registration and supplies from the Iowa NASA Space Grant Consortium. Register online for the Plant the Moon Challenge by Nov. 19.

Teams will receive simulated moon soil and other materials to conduct plant growth experiments. Youth will partner with a current research scientist to design and execute their experiments. Iowa State University graduate students in different plant science fields will communicate virtually with the teams they mentor to provide guidance throughout the program.

“This is a great opportunity for youth to participate in citizen science with a huge organization like NASA,” said Maya Hayslett, crop science youth educational specialist. “They can contribute to NASA’s mission and learn about both plants and space. What’s cooler for a plant scientist than growing plants in space? Not much!”

The Plant the Moon Challenge is 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.

For more information about the Plant the Moon Challenge or Iowa 4-H STEM programming, contact Sara Nelson at or your Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county office.

Shareable image: Register online for the Plant the Moon Challenge by Nov. 19, 2021.

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