Fairchild Receives $1.24 Million Grant From NASA For Growing Beyond Earth STEM Education Program

Press Release From: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is pleased to announce it has been awarded a $1.24 million grant from NASA for its Growing Beyond Earth STEM education program as part of the 2015 Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums and NASA Visitor Centers Plus Other Opportunities. Fairchild's proposal was one of nine selected from 73 applications.

Fairchild will use the grant over four years, starting October 1, 2016, to administer botany experiments within South Florida middle and high schools. Fairchild and NASA aim to identify edible plants that might be suitable for growth aboard NASA's International Space Station. The experiments will include more than 100 kinds of edible plants that will be grown in conditions similar to those in space. The goal is to provide a more sustainable food supply for long-duration space missions.

Growing Beyond Earth is part of The Fairchild Challenge, an award-winning environmental science competition based in Miami. The project will help to expand ongoing NASA research into a citizen science program for students. It will also serve groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields. Through their participation in the project, students will inform future NASA plant research by evaluating edible plants that meet NASA's criteria for size and edibility.

"Our local schoolchildren will become part of the age-old science of growing plants in new environments, now with the goal of producing food wherever humans may find themselves living in the future," said Dr. Carl Lewis, Director of Fairchild.

Fairchild will provide indoor plant growing equipment called "mini botany labs," including an LED-lit growth chamber and enough pots, soil, and seeds to run experiments throughout the school year.

"With this funding, we will be able to offer our botanical expertise to support NASA's current research and empower our local network of STEM-minded middle and high school students to contribute to plant science research that has universal implications," said Amy Padolf, Director of Education at Fairchild.

About Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Established in 1938 as an 83-acre garden in Miami, Fla., Fairchild is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to exploring, explaining and conserving tropical plants. The world-renowned plant collections feature palms, orchids, fruit trees, and more. Fairchild reaches more than 200,000 schoolchildren each year with its environmental education programming.

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