Challenge 5: Growing Beyond Earth®

For Groups — Maximum points: 450 (1 entry per school)

YOUR CHALLENGE: The search for the perfect food plants to feed astronauts is an ongoing effort. For the past seven years, students from across the country have been helping us provide NASA scientists with data on the best candidates and innovative ideas to improve growing conditions for long-distance space travel. This year we’re exploring radishes. This promising crop produces large amounts of edible biomass (you can eat both the roots and leaves), contains valuable nutrients, and certain varieties mature quickly. Your challenge is to test an assortment of radish cultivars in Trial 1 and apply what you learn to design a second trial that optimizes the radish growing conditions to maximize yield. Downloadable PDF


  • Teachers must register to attend a mandatory workshop by September 3, 2021

  • Those teachers registered for the workshop must submit a Lease Agreement if they plan to participate in this challenge

  • Students must submit data and research presentation for complete entry submission

FINAL DATA ENTRY & PROPOSAL DUE: Wednesday, December 8, 2021 by 5:00 pm
The following items are due electronically:

  • Uploaded as a PDF file to entry form: Draft proposal (Maximum 1 page, includes: testable hypothesis, identification of control an variable, materials, and brief explanation of methods)
✓  Data Requirements:
 Trial 1 Google Form submitted December 8th
 Trial 1 data entries updated weekly on provided Google data sheets
 All appropriate Trial 1 data fields complete and valid. Any irregularities or empty fields accompanied by an explanation
 For Trial 1 and Trial 2, weekly student-centered, scientifically-relevant tweets including the school name, @GrowBeyondEarth, and descriptions of any photographs, illustrations or graphs
 Trial 2 data entries updated weekly on Google data sheets
 All appropriate Trial 2 data fields complete and valid. Any irregularities or empty fields accompanied by an explanation
 On-time data entry submission (late entries may not receive points)
✓  Proposal Requirements:
 Based from Trial 1, students designed an original research project
 One-page proposal, double spaced, includes: testable hypothesis, identification of control and variable materials, and brief explanation of methods
 Bibliography citing 3 sources, MLA or APA format
 On-time entry submission by December 8th (late entries may not receive points)

RESEARCH PRESENTATION SUBMISSION: Thursday, April 21, 2022 by 5:00 pm  

✓  Presentation Requirements:
 Opening slide includes descriptive title, student’s name and school name clearly
 Photographs/illustrations/graphs and tables must include captions
 Presentation is 5 slides maximum (excluding opening slide and references)
 Presentation must include the following: introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion, conclusion and at least 5 references
 Bibliography must cite at least 5 sources, follows MLA or APA format
 On-time entry submission (late entries may not receive points)

REQUIRED TEACHER WORKSHOP DATE: Saturday, September 25, 2021 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.
Scientists from NASA will conduct this workshop to introduce their research and the problems they try to solve for future space missions. During this time teachers will learn research protocols, and pick up materials. Visit our Teacher Workshops page for more information. To register, please click here – Closed on September 3, 2021.

CHAT WITH A SCIENTIST: We will be hosting an OPTIONAL online chat with NASA scientists about the Growing Beyond Earth® project. Teachers participating in GBE will receive an invitation a week before each chat with instructions on how to participate. See below for a list of scheduled dates and recordings: 

  • Thursday October 21 at 4:00 pm ET
  • Thursday November 18 at 4:00 pm ET
  • Thursday January 20 at 4:00 pm ET
  • Thursday February 17 at 4:00 pm ET
  • Thursday March 24 at 4:00 pm ET

Bring your class on a virtual field trip at Fairchild. Please visit Explorer Field Trip Programs for more information.

For more information on how your submission will be evaluated, see Challenge 5 Evaluation Sheet & Symposium Presentation Evaluation Sheet

450 Total Points Breakdown:

  • Trial 1 and Trial 2 Data: Max 180 pts

  • Proposal: Max 50 pts

  • Presentation and Symposium: Max 220 pts

To register, please click here. – Coming in 2022!

This Challenge meets various state standards, visit Challenge 5 Benchmarks


Welcome video from NASA
Growing Beyond Earth® (homepage)
Research Protocols
What to Tweet
2019-2020 GBE results 
Growth Chamber Assembly Demonstration (video)
Growth Chamber Assembly Demonstration – short version (video)

Astronauts harvest radish crop on International Space Station
Astronauts grow radishes in Second Advanced Plant Habitat experiment

GBE Student Research 2015-2020
Advanced Plant Habitat
Veggie Fact Sheet

GBE Twitter Feed
Food Production for Space Exploration NASA presentation
Growing Beyond Earth® TEDx (video) and Space Station Live: Veggie 01 (video)
Florikan Fertilizer: Collaboration with NASA (presentation)
2015-2020 GBE Seed List
How Plants Grow in Space

APA and MLA Citation Generator

This website is based upon the work supported by NASA under grant award No NNX16AM32G. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.