Getting Started

Participants in the Plant the Moon Challenge Jr. are part of a global science experiment and educational research challenge to see who can grow the best crops in lunar or Martian soil. Research findings from student teams will help scientists understand how to feed future missions to the Moon and Mars! Getting started with new projects for first-time growers can seem daunting at first. The following steps will help you launch into your lunar agriculture experience.

Purchase the PTMC Jr registration pack (or apply for grant funding to cover the costs from one of our partners)

To participate in the Challenge, your team needs to have the PTMC Jr registration pack that includes the project kit and access to the competition platform, curriculum, training materials and engagement events. Visit the “Register” page to get signed up.

Register your team on the ICS platform

Once you’ve purchased the PTMC Jr registration pack, you will have team credits in the ICS competition platform. If you’re awarded a grant to cover your registration, you will receive an email notification when your credit has been added. You will need to activate your team credit and set up your team to get access to the program materials and competition portal. Check out this tutorial video for details.

Explore our Resource Library materials

The Resource Library on this website provides a wealth of knowledge and examples on how to set up your experiment and be successful in your challenge submissions. Learn from past participants and review the information from our program management team to help narrow your focus and design your experiment.

  • Use the Fundamental Experiment Guide to learn the basic structure of a Plant the Moon Challenge Jr. experiment.
  • View the tutorial videos to understand how to register your team and prepare for your project.
  • Check out some of the team videos and local media stories to see how others have done their projects.

Design your experiment

Once you have gotten a sense of what the fundamental experiment and examples from past teams are like, now it’s time to start thinking about how you want to design your own experiment. The PTMC Jr curriculum activities and Project Guide will help walk you through all the steps needed to define your experiment.

  • Review the Project Guide on the ICS competition portal for the PTMC Jr (you’ll need to have completed Step 2 above for access).
  • Once you understand the details of what needs to go into your experimental design, work as a team to define your parameters and variables. Every experiment is unique – there is no right set of variables to use. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to have one independent variable that you’re trying to determine how it influences crop growth. Remember to reference the Fundamental Experiment Guide for a baseline example, but remember, this is not the only set of variables you can use!

Participate in the Opening Symposium

Now that you have your experimental designs down, you’re ready to get started! Remember, you can design your experiment before you even receive the PTMC Jr project kit with your lunar or Martian simulant. Check out the Timeline to make sure you’re aware of all the upcoming deadlines and milestones, and don’t miss your season’s Opening Symposium. Event details are provided to all registered teams in your project materials. There is a wealth of information provided by our Science Advisory Board and special guest speakers during this live event each season. After the Opening Symposium takes place, you’re off and running! The PTMC Jr program management conducts regular engagement emails and activities to check in with teams throughout the project period to help make sure you’re moving forward in your experiments.