Earlier today at the Children’s Museum in London, Ontario, the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), announced a three-year, $102,000 investment in Let’s Talk Science to support the award-winning TomatosphereTM program. The funding comes from the federal government’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) PromoScience Program that invests in organizations inspiring young Canadians to study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
NSERC’s PromoScience program supports hands-on learning experiences for young students and their teachers. The TomatosphereTM program was chosen for this funding as it uses the excitement of space exploration as a context for teaching students the skills and processes of scientific experimentation and inquiry.
Each year, thousands of Kindergarten to Grade 12 classrooms across Canada plant two sets of tomato seeds to investigate the effects of the space environment on the growth of food. One set of tomato seeds has been sent into space or treated in space-simulated conditions while the other set contains regular seeds. The results from students’ two tomato plants help Canadian scientists understand issues associated with growing food in space that will inevitably support long-term human space travel.
Let’s Talk Science has been operating TomatosphereTM in Canada since July 2014 and is now part of the TomatosphereTM consortium. Other consortium members include the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Heinz Canada Ltd, HeinzSeed, Stokes Seeds, the University of Guelph, and First the Seed Foundation. The TomatosphereTM program was developed in 2001. In 2013, TomatosphereTM won the 2012 NSERC Award for Science Promotion.
Classrooms across Canada who have registered for the TomatosphereTM program will receive seeds in April. For more information, or to register for the program, please visit tomatosphere.letstalkscience.ca.
For more details on this funding, read the official media release.