Challenge 3: Growing Beyond Earth®

For Groups — Maximum points: 400 (1 entry per school)**see points breakdown below**

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 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 poster for complete entry submission.

DATA & POSTER DUE: Wednesday, January 12, 2022 by 5:00 pm
The following items are due electronically:

Delivered to Fairchild in person or via certified mail:

✓   Data Requirements:
 Weekly student-created, scientifically-relevant tweets including the school name, @GrowBeyondEarth and descriptions of any photographs, illustrations or graphs
 All appropriate data fields complete and valid. Any irregularities or empty fields accompanied by an explanation
 Data entries updated weekly on provided Google data sheets
 On-time data entry submission (late entries may not receive points)
✓  Poster Requirements:
 Descriptive title, student’s name and school name clearly printed on entry
 Research poster must be 22″ x 28″, and follow MS poster template
 Research poster must include visual representation of data, discussion, conclusion, and at least 3 references
 Photographs/illustrations/graphs must include caption
 On-time entry submission (late entries may not receive points)

REQUIRED TEACHER WORKSHOP: 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 the research protocols and pick up materials. 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:

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

OPTIONAL Spring 2022 Proposal and Presentation:
This year’s middle schools will have the opportunity to submit a proposal for a Trial 2 experiment. Based off of the results from Trial 1, students can design an original research project and present their findings at the Growing Beyond Earth® Student Research Symposium in April. Email the one page fillable PDF proposal including testable hypothesis, identification of control and variable, materials, and brief explanation of methods to Proposals will be due on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 and presentations on Thursday, April 21, 2022 by 5:00 pm. Proposal Template here – NOW CLOSED. Presentation template here. Email presentation to by April 21 at 5:00 pm.

For more information on how your submission will be evaluated, see Challenge 3 Evaluation Sheet

400 Total Points Breakdown:

  • Trial 1 Data: Max 200 pts
  • Trial 1 Research Poster: Max 200 pts
  • Optional Trial 2 proposal, data collection and research presentation: Max 50 pts
  • Presentation at the Growing Beyond Earth® Student Research Symposium (Symposium Evaluation Sheet): Max 50 pts

GROWING BEYOND EARTH® STUDENT RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM DATE: Saturday, April 23, 2022, from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm (EDT)
The Growing Beyond Earth® Student Research Symposium will take place VIRTUALLY on Saturday, April 23. During this event students will have the opportunity to present their Spring 2022 research findings to NASA Scientists. Register hereClosed.

This Challenge meets various state standards, visit Challenge 3 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.