Welcome to Tomatosphere!
Over the past eleven years, Tomatosphere has evolved into a regular component of the science curriculum for more than 14 250 classrooms in Canada and the United States. The Tomatosphere Project Team will continue offering this stellar learning opportunity through to 2014. The project currently has 600 000 tomato seeds on board the International Space Station which will be returning in mid-2013 for distribution to participating schools in early 2014..
One group of the seeds for 2013 has been primed. This process is outlined in the Teacher's Resources section – Seed Treatment for 2013 or in the section on Priming. The second set of seeds is the control group. 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 primed and which is the control until completion of the germination process and submission of results. Data collection for this year has changed. Teachers will need to examine this area before proceeding. See Teacher Resources - Data collection 2013.
Watching these seeds 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 almost three years. It's imperative to know how to grow food for the journey there, the stay on Mars and 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:
- Grades 3-4: How to Feed a Martian - a unit with a nutrition focus for astronauts' trips to the Red Planet
- Grade 6: Surviving on the Red Planet - Recycling breathable air
- Grades 7-8: The Martian environment - a weather station on Mars
- Grades 9-10: The Energy to Survive - nutritional requirements for long duration missions