As the world population has surpassed eight billion, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is exploring alternative farming concepts, including the idea to grow food in space. The agency is collaborating with young scientists on the project through their Growing Beyond Earth program. One of the approximately 300 schools that has partnered with NASA via this program is our Diocese’s very own Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) School in Riverside.

OLPH’s sixth through eighth graders attend interactive training sessions with NASA scientists on the importance of sustainable food production before stepping into more hands-on work: planting, watering and harvesting plants for observation and providing the data to NASA.

The teacher of this intensive STEM course is Lynn Castaneda, who has completed the University of Notre Dame’s STEM Teaching Fellow program.

OLPH’s involvement in Growing Beyond Earth is just one way the school has made it a priority to emphasize STEM education. “STEM is important in early childhood education and elementary levels because it channels a child’s sense of exploration,” said Castaneda….

The Catholic faith plays a part in OLPH’s STEM education as well; the religious component contributes to a commitment to ethical behavior, as students are taught that they can utilize their STEM knowledge to make a positive change in the world. The Growing Beyond Earth program fits within this ethos of responsible citizenship, as the students’ real-world, or out-of-this-world, research has the potential to make a tangible positive impact for humanity….

Full story at Inland Catholic Byte.