Challenge 6: Growing Beyond Earth®

For Groups — Maximum points: 300 (1 entry per school)

As NASA looks toward a long-term human presence beyond Earth’s orbit, there are specific science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) challenges related to food production in space. Established in 2015 as a partnership between Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and NASA’s Exploration Research and Technology Programs, Growing Beyond Earth enables student community scientists to actively contribute data toward NASA mission planning. Download PDF

New Schools will conduct the following experiment:

  • Cultivar Testing in the new GBE unit – click here for Research Protocols

Returning schools will choose on of the following experiments:

  • Irradiated Seeds – click here for Research Protocols (REVISED 09-18-2023)
  • Dynamic Lighting – click here for Research Protocols
  • Herb Selections – click here for Research Protocols
  • Combined Containers and Companion Plants – click here for Research Protocols


  • Teachers must register to attend a mandatory workshop lead by NASA to receive information on research protocols by September 1, 2023. There are three workshop dates offered: Saturday, September 9, 2023, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm OR Wednesday, September 13, 2023, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm in ENGLISH OR Thursday, September 14, 2023, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm in ESPAÑOL. Teachers must attend ONLY ONE of these workshops. 

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

  • Data and research presentation must be submitted for entry submission to be considered completed

  • Download the one page fillable PDF Proposal Template.

  • Complete fillable form including testable hypothesis, identification of control and variable, materials, and brief explanation of methods and

  • Upload completed form to Challenge 6 Entry Form.

Registration for Mandatory WorkshopFriday, September 1, 2023
Final Trial 1 Data Entry DueFriday, November 17, 2023
Trial 2 Proposal DueFriday, December 15, 2023
Trial 2 Data DueFriday, April 5, 2023 
Trial 2 Research Presentation Submission DueWednesday, April 17, 2024 
Virtual Growing Beyond Earth® Student Research SymposiumSaturday, April 20, 2024, Time TBD
✓  Data Requirements:
 Weekly student-created, scientifically relevant tweets including the school’s name, @GrowBeyond Earth, and descriptions of any photographs, illustrations, or graphs.
 Data updated weekly on provided Google data sheets. All appropriate data fields complete and valid on provided data sheets. Any irregularities or empty fields accompanied by an explanation.
 On-time entry submission. Late entries will be accepted with a reduction in points.
✓  Proposal Requirements:
 Student designed, original research project informed by Trial 1 data.
 Proposal utilizes provided template with all sections completed.
 Proposal includes a bibliography citing 3 sources, MLA or APA format.
 On-time entry submission. Late entries may not be accepted.


✓  Presentation Requirements:
 Presentation is 7 slides MAXIMUM: 1 opening slide, 1 closing/references slide and 5 content slides.
 Presentation opening slide includes descriptive title, student(s) first name, last initial and school name. Presentation must include an introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion, conclusion and at least 5 references following MLA or APA format.
 All photographs, illustrations, graphs and tables must include captions.
 On-time entry submission. Late entries may not be accepted.

For more information on how your submission will be evaluated, see Symposium Evaluation Sheet – COMING SOON!

300 Total Points Breakdown:

  • Trial 1 and Trial 2 Data: Max 100 pts

  • Proposal: Max 50 pts

  • Presentation and Symposium: Max 150 pts

Visit Challenge 6 Lesson Planning Guide to learn ideas for implementing this Challenge in your classroom.

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 12 at 4:00 pm EDT
  • Thursday, November 9 at 4:00 pm EST
  • Thursday, December 7 at 4:00 pm EST
  • Thursday, January 11 at 4:00 pm EST
  • Thursday, February 15 at 4:00 pm EST
  • Thursday, March 7 at 4:00 pm EST

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

Growing Beyond Earth® (homepage)
Research Toolkit: Returning Schools: Coming Soon OR New Schools: Coming soon.
What to Tweet
2021-2022 Growing Beyond Earth® results
Growth Chamber Assembly Demonstration (video) – UPDATED October 4, 2022.
Growth Chamber Assembly Demonstration – short version (video) – UPDATED October 4, 2022.
Click HERE to see the Growing Beyond Earth 2022 Student Research Symposium Winners

2023-2024 Introduction to Growing Beyond Earth Presentation by Dr. Gioia Massa (video)
2023-2024 Introduction to Growing Beyond Earth Presentation (powerpoint)
Cultivar Testing Workshop Recording
Irradiated Seeds Workshop Recording
Intro to Space Radiation Presentation by Dr. Alexander Meyers, NASA Postdoctoral Fellow (powerpoint)
Dynamic Lighting Workshop Recording
Herb Selections Workshop Recording
Combined Containers and Companion Plants Workshop Recording

Advanced Plant Habitat

Veggie Fact Sheet
Astro Science Journal for Teens: Can we grow safe and nutritious food in space? – UPDATED January 19, 2023
Astro Science Journal for Teens: Can we grow safe and nutritious food in space? TEACHER’S KEY – UPDATED January 19, 2023
Growing Plants in Space – UPDATED January 19, 2023
GBE Twitter Feed
Growing Beyond Earth® TEDx (video) and Space Station Live: Veggie 01 (video)
2015-2022 Growing Beyond Earth® Seed List
How Plants Grow in Space
APA and MLA Citation Generator

For additional resources, please visit the Teacher Resources webpage.

This website is based upon the work supported by NASA under grant award No. 80NCCS22M0125. 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.