NASA KIDS Funding Plant the Moon Expansion!

Posted September 9, 2022 by Miranda Marshall

It’s official, we have amazing news for the Plant the Moon Challenge – NASA just announced that they will be awarding over $4 million to institutions across the United States, including our partner, the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, specifically to support the expansion of the Institute of Competition Science’s Plant the Moon Challenge to over 13,000 new students in the next three years! The PTMC was selected as one of just four projects to receive support from the NASA Space Grant K-12 Inclusiveness and Diversity in STEM (SG KIDS) solicitation.

The NASA Space Grant KIDS funding aims to provide experiences for students to learn about NASA’s Artemis mission to return human explorers to the Moon and to Mars. Receiving this funding will expand the Plant the Moon Challenge and provide new opportunities for students to explore space science, mission design, agriculture, botany, and more, all through the hands-on, project-based structure of the PTMC. The grant supports six Space Grant Consortium partners to engage new middle and high school teams in their states including: North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Virginia (the proposal lead).


About the Challenge

The Institute of Competition Sciences’ Plant the Moon Challenge (PTMC) is a global citizen science experiment for explorers, astronauts, and gardeners of all ages. Part hands-on learning activity and part project-based competition, the goal of the PTMC is to see who can grow the best crops using lunar or Martian regolith simulant.

Participants receive PTMC Activity Kit and form student groups that work together to design their own plant growth experiments over an eight-week grow period. For two weeks before the grow period, throughout the grow period, and for two weeks after the grow period, teams engage in weekly activities and virtual events that supplement their experiments with STEM learning activities.

Piloted in 2021 and 2022, the Challenge has reached an exciting 4,000 students in its first two seasons. Thanks to the incorporation of NASA Space Grant KIDS funding, 13,080 additional students from targeted underrepresented and underserved populations and 510 formal and informal educators who teach these students will be engaged during a three-year project period.

The Institute of Competition Sciences is thrilled to be able to support more students and educators alongside the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and our five other regional Space Grant Consortia partners (Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, and West Virginia) on this proposal. With the addition of materials stipends for participating teachers, expanded professional development for educators, enhanced speakers and activities for participants, and experiential prizes in each state and at the regional level, the NASA SG KIDS opportunity will greatly enhance the way students engage with NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions to explore the Moon, Mars, and beyond!


Teachers are saying…

“The students were in complete control (I only served as the guiding hand). They really enjoyed the importance of their work and loved that they were involved with NASA and their missions to help the Moon projects. They were really interested in finding out why their project didn’t work as planned. I had to tell them that failure was a key opportunity to truly learn. They then dug into their research as to why the plants didn’t reach maturity. Love, love, love this for them!”

“Plant the moon was a wonderful whole group experience that created a lot of dialogue amongst my students… My students were already very interested in space, and this just helped make it a little more real for them.”

“…My students took ownership of this project. They were committed to the weekly observations and recording of data and active in asking questions, troubleshooting and problem solving along the way.”


Get Involved

To learn more about our Plant the Moon/Plant Mars Challenge and upcoming opportunities, be sure to subscribe to the ICS Newsletter below, and visit the Plant the Moon Challenge website.