PULASKI, Va. (WFXR) — Several eighth-grade students from Pulaski County Middle School (PCMS) will compete in the Plant the Moon Challenge through a NASA-funded regional project.

Students will conduct experiments, and research, and challenge how vegetable crops can grow in lunar soil. “We love the fact that we might get to send plants to the moon,” said eighth-grader Payton Thomas.

The Plant the Moon Challenge is one of many student-driven initiatives brought upon by NASA. In September 2022, NASA awarded money to six states, including Virginia, to fund projects for underserved and underrepresented STEM students.

Student-led research will help NASA scientists understand how to use lunar soil to grow nutritious crops for future missions to the Moon or Mars.

“With this challenge, students have an incredible opportunity to be part of something much bigger than the class. They are conducting an experiment and sharing their data with NASA,” said PCMS teacher, Tina Winesett.

The students are not the only ones benefitting from this project, the NASA Space Grant Regional Expansion Project provides additional support to educators. Teachers leading the programs are able to receive free experimental learning kits and enhancement activities for their students.

For more information about the Plant the Moon Challenge, visit their website.