Excellence in Education: East Fairmont’s ‘Plant the Moon’ experiment

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 3:20 PM EDT|Updated: May. 31, 2023 at 4:08 PM EDT
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FAIRMONT, W.Va (WDTV) - In this week’s Excellence in Education report sponsored by Davis & Elkins College, we are highlighting East Fairmont’s “Plant the Moon” experiment.

Eighth grader Gavin Floyd describes his experience working on the “Plant the Moon” project as one of the best things he has ever done.

“10 out of 10 best thing I’ve ever done,” Floyd said.

The “Plant the Moon” project is a global science experiment and research competition that challenges students to examine how vegetable crops can grow in lunar soil.

“We received two big bags of simulated lunar regolith, and we used that and added enhancements, things to supplement the soil to make it so you can grow things in it. They are looking to grow on the moon, and they are looking for ideas, and kids have fabulous ideas,” said the teacher, Samantha Copthorne.

Students were tasked with researching crops to grow for the experiment.

The seventh grade team chose to grow black sunflower roots, and the eighth grade team grew calendula and catnip.

“We figured out what astronauts need when they go in space, and we used that to pick a plant that grew fast and had a lot of those nutrients,” said seventh grade student Landon Starn.

“We realized that the nutritional values were already solved, so we looked at the more mental aspects, like how they can become lonely and get depressed, so we looked at things that help you stay in the moment like pruning and stuff like that. We saw that if the plant grows fast and is tolerant to pruning, you can have something to do everyday,” said Floyd.

The seventh grade team even grew a separate batch of their plant to see what the astronauts would be tasting in space.

“It was really interesting because we did the research to see what it would taste like, but to actually taste was interesting. It was peppery,” said seventh grade student Lydia Reid.

The students say this experiment has taught them several valuable lessons like communication and patience.

“We learned a lot in the science and communication aspects because our team had a communication problem halfway through. It could’ve been a problem because our data was skewed, but we just learned to communicate thoroughly throughout the rest of the project,” said eighth grader Jessie Wisman.

Both teams won awards. The eighth grade team won for the evaluation of their results, and the seventh grade team for innovation.

They will be rewarded with an experimental learning field trip with Ms. Copthorne.