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LW Earns International Honors in Grow the Moon Competition

Posted Date: 08/10/2023

LW Earns International Honors in Grow the Moon Competition


Lowpoint-Washburn Awarded Best In Show at International Competition 

It has been an exciting week in the Lowpoint-Washburn school district! Students and faculty anxiously awaited the results of the Plant The Moon Challenge - a competition sponsored by the Institute of Competition Sciences - designed to engage, inspire, and motivate students through real-world competition. On Monday, May 15th, Lowpoint-Washburn discovered that one of their teams, STEAMTroopers had been selected as Best in Show for Best Plant Growth - one of the 4 honors given to the elementary division. 

LW students devoted many hours to a global science experiment and research challenge examining how vegetable crops might grow in lunar soil. This project is designed to help astronauts discover how to grow food on the moon. 

Plant the Moon

The Spring 2023 Challenge consisted of over 600 teams from around the world. The LW STEAM club, sponsored by DiAnn Kuehn, Holly Spurgeon, Brad Applen and Kim Sullivan entered two teams. STEAMTroopers (a group of ten 4th and 5th grade students) competed in the Elementary division and Ag. Tech (a group of eight 6th-8th grade students) competed in the middle school division. Both teams focused their study on the growth of soybeans in a lunar soil simulant. Soybeans were chosen because they are locally grown, and are not only nutrient dense, but also have a multitude of uses. These characteristics would be valuable for astronauts who have limited resources and space. Both teams also chose to use nutrient rich Illinois soil as an additive to the lunar regolith. STEAMTroopers focused on ratios of black soil and lunar regolith. Ag. Tech compared three soil types black, sandy, and clay, to see which would be most successful. 

After the 8 week study, the STEAMTroopers team found the best mixture was 80% lunar simulant and 20% nutrient-dense black soil. 

Both LW teams and their sponsors collaborated to discover solutions and make decisions about their projects. While the AgTech team did not win an award in their division, their findings were valuable and demonstrated the importance of teamwork and research. 

This initiative was made possible by a grant from University of Illinois Space Grant Consortium to cover the cost of the initial challenge kit. Lowpoint-Washburn also received multiple donations from BKL management, Mike Storm, Jason DeWalt, L-W staff and Tieman Builders. 

Congratulations to all Lowpoint-Washburn students and their faculty sponsors…..well done!