Space tomatoes: Grade 5 grows plants that are out of this world

Santa Catalina Lower and Middle School fifth-graders are growing tomatoes that went to space.

The students are contributing to a real-world, citizen science project called Tomatosphere, in which NASA and other agencies study the effects of microgravity on seed germination.

NASA provided two sets of seeds: One set traveled to the International Space Station and the other stayed on Earth. Without knowing which was which, the students planted the seeds and recorded data as the plants grew, noting size, color, texture, growth rates, and more. Students then submitted that data back to NASA for research—and learned which plants grew from the space seeds (the "U" tray in the photo above). Students’ observations will continue as they plant the vines in the school garden and see which ones produce more tomatoes.

The project is part of grade 5’s yearlong theme in science class of going on a mission to Mars, in which they study science concepts that would help them reach and survive on the red planet.

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