Frequently Asked Questions

Cost

What is included in the cost of the Plant the Moon Challenge registration?

Each team registration comes with a 2.5kg bag of lunar or Martian simulant, pH strips, ten KN95 masks, ten pots, and a flyer to help you get started. With your purchase and registration, you will also gain access to the digital Project Guide which provides in-depth guidance on each phase and task of the competition. Supplemental materials will be needed to conduct your experiment such as pots, seeds, and soil amendments. The additional materials that you will need to purchase will vary based on the parameters of your experimental design.

How much will supplemental materials cost?

This depends on your growth setup. At minimum, you will need seeds and supplemental soil or fertilizer. However, some teams choose to use a grow light, aquaponics systems, or other additional materials that have an added cost.

Do you have scholarships or grant funding for states not listed on your website?

Unfortunately, no. However, we have had teams in the past successfully reach out to local companies for financial support and we encourage you to do so!

Shipping

When will I receive the soil simulant?

Simulant packs will be shipped out the week after regular registration closes. Shipments will NOT occur on a rolling basis (except for international shipments), so if you purchase early in the registration period, do not expect the package until after registration closes. All shipments will be received prior to the first day of the Grow Period. For the timing of international shipping, please see the next question.

Will there be issues with shipping internationally?

It is the responsibility of each team leader to provide an address where packages can be received. International registration closes early to ensure that international shipments have time to arrive before the start of the Challenge. That being said, it is your responsibility to ensure that customs in your country does not prohibit the entry of soil. International shipments occur on a rolling basis.

What happens if there is an issue shipping to the address I provided?

It is the responsibility of each team leader to provide an address where packages can be received. If you need to change the address provided, please email ptmc@competitionsciences.org with the updated address. Any re-shipments will only be sent out upon receipt of payment by the customer for the second shipping fee.

Refunds

If I never used the simulant shipped to me, can I get a refund?

We cannot provide refunds on orders that have already been shipped. However, you can postpone your participation in the Challenge to a future season if you purchased your own registration. Grant funded teams, however, may not defer their participation to a future season and must return their kit or cover the complete registration fee.

If I never used the simulant shipped to me, can I participate in a future season?

If you purchased your own registration, yes. Please email ptmc@competitionsciences.org noting that you would like to participate in the upcoming season with the unused simulant. Note that grant funded teams may not defer their participation to a future season.

If I apply for grant funding and receive it, can I get a refund on my paid order?

In some situations, yes, but we ask that you do NOT place an order until you hear back about grant funding. Please check the "Timeline" page for the date in which you will hear back about funding. You will have between 1-2 weeks to decide if you would like to purchase the simulant yourself after hearing back from the Space Grant. Note that our refund policy indicates that we will not provide refunds once shipping has occurred.

Participation

Can international teams participate?

Absolutely! There are no location restrictions on participating in the Plant the Moon Challenge. However, please read the FAQ section labeled “Shipping” to understand international shipping requirements.

Can the Challenge be implemented in a virtual school setting?

Yes, we have had teachers in the past successfully implement the Plant the Moon Challenge in a virtual setting. It is a great substitute for hands-on learning!

Can we have a team with a wide range of ages?

Yes, as long as all team members are at least 13 years old. We only ask that teams choose to categorize themselves based on the average level of their team members when submitting final reports. If team members are younger than age 13, consider participating in Plant the Moon Challenge Jr!

Can I participate with family or friends, or does it have to be a school-based group?

Absolutely! We welcome all groups - classrooms, clubs, homeschool groups, families, etc.

How much time do I need to commit to the Challenge?

Through the Pre-Season Planning, Grow Period, and Report Period of the Challenge, the team coach will have different roles and responsibilities. You can expect to commit 12-24 hours to the challenge across the season. The total time you will commit depends on the level of involvement that you wish to have throughout the project.

How many people can be on a team?

One team represents a maximum of 5 students. While there is no minimum number of team members required to participate, teams tend to be more successful with at least 2-3 participants.

What ages can participate?

To participate in the Plant the Moon Challenge, participants must be at least 13 years old. There is no maximum age to participate. Submissions are divided and scored in two distinct age groups: High School & Professional. Additionally, all students under age 18 must have an adult act as their coach. Active participation and/or knowledge of science from the coach is not necessary. If you are interested in participating in the Plant the Moon Challenge with younger students, please visit Plant the Moon Challenge Jr!

Can a team participate in a subsequent season using leftover simulant from a previous season?

No, each team must start a season with a new, unused pack of simulant.

What is the structure of the Challenge?

At the core of this challenge is the scientific method and design process. These steps can be summarized into the four parts of conducting a PTMC experiment: Research, Design, Plant & Monitor, and Analyze & Present. Within each phase, you will encounter check point tasks that will step you through the process of completing your experiment. These will be supplemented with live events from which you can gain additional support and networking opportunities. Teams will design their own experiments, plant, monitor their crops, and turn in 7 tasks over the course of the season, including a Final Report. Please see the "Timeline" tab for a full list of tasks.

Grant Funding

Can I apply for grant funding if I do not live/teach in one of the states listed?

Unfortunately, no. This includes if you live near the border of a participating Space Grant state. We are constantly working to expand our connections with other states, though! Please check back in future seasons for any additions to our list of Space Grant partners. Additionally, interested teams are encouraged to reach out their state's Space Grant Consortium and let them know of their interest in the Challenge. Some teams have successfully been funded that way!

If I receive grant funding, how many teams can I register?

You may only register the same number of teams as simulant packs received. This information will be in your acceptance email.

If I indicated lunar simulant on my application, can I later switch to Martian?

No, the selection you indicated on your application determines which type of soil simulant will be sent to you. No changes can be made after submission of the application.

If I have received grant funding in the past, can I apply again?

Yes. However, it is up to each individual Space Grant Consortium whether or not they will sponsor the same team twice.

If I applied for grant funding, when will I hear back?

Please check the "Timeline" page for the date in which you will hear back about funding. This date tends to be 1-2 weeks after Space Grant applications close, excluding the winter holiday season.

If I receive grant funding, how many kits will I receive?

Please check your acceptance email to see how many simulant packs you were awarded. Note that depending on funding availability in your state, this may be less than the number of packs you requested.

If I apply for grant funding and do not receive it, can I still participate?

Yes, we would still love to have you! After hearing back from the Space Grant Consortium in your state, there will be between 1-2 weeks before registration closes to decide if you would like to purchase the registration yourself.

If I received grant funding, can I defer my participation to a future season?

To protect the investment of the Space Grant Consortium, grant funded teams are not eligible for deferral. If you are no longer able to participate after signing the Commitment Form and receiving your kit, you must fund the return shipment of the unopened simulant or cover the complete registration fee.

Experiments

How many plants can you grow in the simulant provided?

One simulant pack is enough for approximately 5 small pots of individual plants, depending on the additives you add to your simulant. Teams are not required to use the pots that are included in the kit. The number of plants that you can grow will vary based on the type of plant and container that your team selects.

Do I have to develop my own experiment?

Yes, teams will follow the guidelines in the digital Project Guide to design their experiments. The variables you study are determined by the team. Teams may choose to examine any parameters relevant to crop growth, such as the structure of your plant growth setup, the amount and timing of water used, the type/amount of nutrients or fertilizer added to the simulant to help support plant growth, and the types of crops grown.

What crops can I grow in the simulant?

The goal of the Plant the Moon Challenge is to grow plants that astronauts could eat in space, but we don't have seed restrictions (no controlled substances permitted). Registration includes access to the digital Project Guide that includes a list of suggestions, but it is not comprehensive. Please note that although we recommend using edible plants, we strongly advise against consuming the plants you grow.

Have another question you would like to ask about the Challenge?

Email us at: ptmc@competitionsciences.org