Growing Beyond Earth

Growing Beyond Earth is a highly successful classroom-based citizen science research project operated in partnership with NASA. This classroom-based STEM program is a series of authentic plant experiments conducted by students using equipment similar to NASA’s Vegetable Production System. GBE evolved out of NASA’s efforts to find suitable crops for long term space missions. With experiments currently in progress in more than 235 middle and high schools across the country, GBE is providing a steady stream of valuable data to NASA scientists who are developing technologies for growing food crops for long-duration missions into deep space. 

Now in its sixth year Growing Beyond Earth has inspired and engaged over 10,000 middle and high school students and their teachers nationwide.

How to participate? Contact us!

With the help of the participating schools, plant scientists at Kennedy Space Center determined which edible plants would meet their needs including (1) having vitamins not found in the proceed diets of the astronauts; (2) growing well under low energy lighting with limited resources and space; (3) has a strong flavor and (4) is robust enough to grow in a variety of environments. To date, 143 varieties were tested. Based on the results of student research, ten varieties were selected to be tested at the Greenworks at Kennedy Space Station and two of those (“Dragoon” lettuce and “Extra dwarf” Bok Choy) were chosen to be grown aboard the International Space Station. Additionally, the student’s research led to new planting and harvest procedures on the ISS. According to one of the leading plant scientists, these discoveries would have been otherwise overlooked. 

Students Help Select Two of Four New Plants Heading to Space

More Results

Each year students are given the opportunity to present their original research to NASA scientists and administrators during the annual Student Research Symposium.

Interested in participating? More information and protocols can be found here: Fall 2020 Protocols, Spring 2021 Protocols

You are a teacher in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward or Miami Beach? Please visit the Fairchild Challenge home page.


This website is based upon work supported by NASA under 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.