Challenge 4: Growing Beyond Earth®

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

YOUR CHALLENGE: 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.

For new schools: For thousands of years, humans have used herbs for medicinal, cultural and culinary purposes and their aromatic scent has provided comfort. Your challenge is to grow an assortment of herbs, evaluate your results, and share your conclusions on the most vigorous cultivar.

For returning schools: Plants need light, water, and air. Garden systems in space must provide artificial light and a method for watering, all of which can be resource intensive. Your challenge will be to grow Misome, a fast-growing Tatsoi hybrid by minimizing the input of resources while maximizing crop production. In a second trial optimize your findings by applying your own research. Downloadable PDF

Research Toolkit: Returning Schools: Yield Trial (28 Day) OR New Schools: Herb Trial (49 Day) – UPDATED September 23, 2022.


  • Teachers must register to attend a mandatory workshop by Wednesday, September 7, 2022
  • Those teachers registered for the workshop must submit a Lease Agreement if they plan to participate in this challenge 
  • Data and research poster must be submitted for entry submission to be considered complete.


The following items are due electronically:

Trial 1

  • Data sheets

Optional Trial 2

  • Steps: 1) Download the one page fillable PDF Proposal Template. 2) Complete fillable form including testable hypothesis, identification of control and variable, materials, and brief explanation of methods and 3) Upload completed form to Proposal Trial 2 entry form here. Proposals will be due on Friday, December 9, 2022.

TRIAL 1 POSTER DUE: Monday January 9 to Sunday, January 15, 2023

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 VIRTUAL TEACHER WORKSHOP: Saturday, September 17, 2022 from 11:30 am to 4:00 pm. or Wednesday, September 21, 2022 from 4:30 pm to 8:30 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. To register, please click here by September 7, 2022.

Videos of teacher training workshops:
* Presentation by Dr. Gioia M. and GBE herb trial (new teachers)
* GBE Misome trial (returning teachers)



  • Kennedy Space Center tour with Dr. Gioia Massa on NASA YouTube Channel Live rescheduled to October 26, 12:30 – 2:00 pm ET.

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 2023 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.

See “Optional Trial 2 Proposal Due” steps above for details. Presentations due on Wednesday, April 26, 2023 by 5:00 pm.

For more information on how your submission will be evaluated, see Challenge 4 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

The Growing Beyond Earth® Student Research Symposium will take place VIRTUALLY on Saturday, April 29. During this event students will have the opportunity to present their Spring 2023 research findings to NASA Scientists. Register here – Coming in 2023.

This Challenge meets various state standards, visit Challenge 4 Benchmarks

Growing Beyond Earth® (homepage)
Research Toolkit: Returning Schools: Yield Trial (28 Day) OR New Schools: Herb Trial (49 Day) – UPDATED September 23, 2022.
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

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
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)
2015-2022 Growing Beyond Earth® 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. NNH21ZDA001N-SciAct. 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.