On Tuesday, April 14, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen and Let’s Talk Science President Dr. Bonnie Schmidt met with 27 Grade 6 students from Byron Northview Public School to learn about their involvement in the award-winning TomatosphereTM program.
The Grade 6 students, who have been growing their tomato plants for just under a month, had an out-of-this-world experience when they presented their findings to Hansen. The students took turns describing the germination process of the plants to the astronaut, as well as other special guests who attended the announcement.
The event took place on the same day the Canadian Space Agency launched 600,000 tomato seeds to the International Space Station (ISS) for next year’s TomatosphereTM program. The seeds, sent on SpaceX’s Dragon resupply ship, arrived at the ISS on April 17 and will stay in space for five weeks. During that time, the seeds will orbit Earth 550 times.
“The TomatosphereTM program gives students the opportunity to investigate the effects of the space environment on the growth of food to support future space missions beyond Low Earth Orbit,” said Let’s Talk Science President Bonnie Schmidt. “By using the excitement of space exploration, TomatosphereTM gets students interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), while teaching them the skills and processes of scientific experimentation and inquiry.”
Let’s Talk Science joined the TomatosphereTM consortium in 2014 and now leads the Canadian operations of the program. Other consortium members include the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Heinz Canada Ltd, Stokes Seeds, the University of Guelph, and First the Seed Foundation. Funding for TomatosphereTM comes from The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). For more details about Tomatosphere™, visit tomatosphere.letstalkscience.ca.