How can you capture the most carbon growing alfalfa?

Become a Carbon Farmer through the ExoLab-10 ground trials in preparation for the mission to the International Space Station later this year. Your goal is to grow the largest alfalfa plant in a closed and artificial environment in 28 days. 

Alfalfa is a versatile forage and legume crop known for high edible biomass production, ability to sequester carbon and rejuvenate soils, and a potential biofuel. Different growing methods and environmental conditions affect biomass produced and carbon stored. 

By studying plants, soils, and biogeochemical cycles, students will journey through the experimental design process to develop lab and data analysis skills while applying scientific knowledge. Students will ponder solutions to some of our toughest challenges on Earth and beyond. 

With ground trials beginning on March 30, students, educators, and community scientists can join the Carbon Farmer science team. You can join us by registering for a free account on the Magnitude platform or by committing to the full mission experience, which includes ExoLab hardware and experiment supplies for a class of 30 students. 

Based on grade level, students will use scientific inquiry to learn about the importance of the carbon cycle on Earth and in space by completing ready-to-go lessons on the Magnitude platform. Teachers, let us be your virtual classroom assistant with lesson plans and activities. 

Through the ExoLab-10 curriculum, high school students will explore the complexities of soil, key biological processes that affect plant growth, and how to scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere whether on Earth or in a spacecraft. Then, they will apply these concepts to design an experiment to capture the most carbon.

Middle school students will dig into research across scientific disciplines while also designing an investigation to grow the largest alfalfa plant. Space Rabbit will need help from elementary students to survive during a mission that goes off course. 

By experimenting with alfalfa in the classroom, students will be prepared to make a larger impact by applying that knowledge in their communities. At the end of the challenge, students can submit digital posters, videos, and data as the team decides on protocols for the launch of the experiment to the International Space Station in October aboard the SpaceX-26 Cargo Resupply mission. 

Restoring Earth’s biosphere or developing bioregenerative life support systems for space applications calls for a transdisciplinary approach, critical thinking, and ingenuity in developing new solutions.

Through this authentic STEAM research mission, students can launch their space biology careers and become climate change solutionaries. Perhaps one day when the ECLSS system begins failing on the spacecraft, they will use the power of plants to save the crew. 

Join us on this mission for survival on Earth and in space. Register today for free to join the ExoLab-10 ground trials. 


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