Next Stop, Mars!

Next Stop, Mars!

Four seniors at Sacred Heart Greenwich have been recognized in the Plant Mars Competition. Plant Mars is a project-based competition, challenging students to grow crops and maximize plant yield in a mixture of substances created to mimic the properties of real Martian soil. Understanding how to grow food on Mars is an essential goal for any future missions to the red planet. 

Since September, Charlotte Gannon '23, Isabella Leao '23, Katie May '23, and Robin Murphy '23 have toiled in soil to hypothesize that enhancing the Martian soil with a super absorbent polymer that quickly absorbs and then slowly releases water and nutrients might enable successful crop production. Which plants thrive best in this unique soil compound? Radishes and arugula! Team “Next Stop Mars Explorers” won Best Experimental Design in the High School Division. Click here to read an abstract of their project.

The judges’ of this award wrote of the Next Stop Mars Explorers, “It’s obvious [the Sacred Heart Greenwich] team did extensive background research and this paid off in their experimental design. The use of the polymer to leverage the salt content in the Mars simulant was a great call, super innovative! Overall well designed experiments and data recording methods are also outlined, which is great because NASA proposals require Data Management Plans, so this is great practice. The analysis of results was objective and thorough and the interpretations are sound and insightful. Great job, team!”

This innovative work was conducted under the guidance of Mary Musolino H'08, Science Research teacher, and incorporated the use of Sacred Heart Greenwich’s new greenhouse. The Science Research program is a unique program to Sacred Heart Greenwich and enables students to pursue an original topic that leads to authentic, hands-on research. Throughout their research, students begin to become experts in their area of research and connect with other experts in the field, who are often interested in the students’ research. The program culminates when students present their projects, with the possibility of being recognized for having performed significant and worthwhile research. 

“I am very proud of the Plant Mars Challenge Team for their dedication to the group project and for working so well together,” says Ms. Musolino. “The students truly complemented each other, and each student brought her own unique talent and perspective to the project.”