You say tomato, I say Tomatosphere!

CCRCE News: 
Monday, April 27, 2015

Grade 3 students at Uniacke District School (UDS) are joining 17,000 classrooms across Canada and the United States as part of the Tomatosphere Project Team.

Tomatosphere is a Canadian-based research project and part of Canada’s contribution to long-term space travel. The Tomatosphere project is directly connected to the science curriculum and allows students to make a contribution to a real science experiment involving research related to the development of seeds with a high germination rate for prolonged space travel. 

By participating in Tomatosphere, students will be dealing with two different types of seeds. One type of seed is a “control” group, which will be used as a basis for comparison with the second set of seeds. The control group consists of Heinz H9478 seeds that have had no exposure to any extraneous conditions. The second set of seeds, a “treatment” group are treated in space or space-like conditions. 

UDS students are first learning about the experiment by completing a WebQuest; an inquiry-based lesson format in which most of the information that students work with comes from the web. You can view UDS' WebQuest here. The “official” experiment will begin when UDS students plant their Tomatosphere seeds on Wednesday, April 29. The students will be watching the seeds daily and reporting when they germinate. WebQuest and experiment data will be posted to a UDS Blog available here

At the end of the experiment, students will prepare reports and send their results to the Tomatosphere’s Project Manager. Those results will be combined with others from across Canada and the United States to provide important data for future long-term space voyages. Once UDS' data is submitted, students will learn which group of seeds were which! 

Tomato seeds were chosen for this experiment because tomatoes are a highly nutritious food source, which, if successfully be grown in space, could provide food, oxygen and water as well as facilitating the removal of carbon dioxide from the air to help sustain long-term space travel.

More information about the Tomatosphere Project is available on the project website