Seventy students at Freeport and Polk Elementary in Freeport and Clute Texas are starting their space biology careers early ‒ in kindergarten. Brimming with questions and curiosity, they will be investigating how plants grow in space through the ExoLab-8 mission.
Five Brazosport ISD teachers will be guiding these young minds during the mission to investigate how microgravity affects plants, thanks to the generosity of the 3M plant in Angleton, which selected this STEM project to receive a grant award from the 3M Foundation through DonorsChoose.org.
The ExoLab-8 mission launches to the International Space Station in February 2021, and students from around the world have an opportunity to participate in authentic astrobotany research. As part of this demonstration project, researchers will attempt to achieve rhizobial root nodulation with red clover plants while in Low Earth Orbit.
Through this scientific inquiry experience, these bilingual kindergarten students will develop lifelong science and literacy skills, vocabulary, and high order-thinking skills as they examine the phenomena of growing legume plants with friendly bacteria. They will design and conduct experiments on the ground while comparing data and images of the plants growing on the station.
Two years ago, the 3M plant manager in Angleton began searching for STEM programs to support, and he came across Javier Montiel, an outstanding education leader bringing out-of-this-world hands-on STEM nights experiences to this diverse community of learners. This year as a co-investigator for the ExoLab mission, Mr. Montiel requested funds through DonorsChoose for these students to actively participate in this mission aboard the ISS. This virtual field trip experience will deliver engagement by driving curiosity and excitement about space.
As the social investment arm of 3M, the 3M Foundation awards grants to leading programs that improve lives in its communities through their people, their products, and their philanthropy. 3M strives to maximize social impact and thrives to build inclusiveness, diversity, and vibrancy in 3M communities.
Teachers from around the U.S. can bring this engaging experience to their students for as little as the cost of a visit to the local museum. Seek a funding partner by setting up a project through DonorsChoose.org and reach out to leaders, business partners, foundations, and funders from your community to make this adventure happen for your students this school year.