Dow High Space Farmers

By: Kevin McKeown

At Pickering Labs we have always been very interested in the applications of our customers.  Our Artificial Body Fluids solutions have been used in cutting-edge COVID research, during early-stage development of some of the coolest tech gadgets, ensuring proper functionality of medical implants and many, many more novel purposes.  We wanted to highlight another use that we found particularly compelling.

Recently we were contacted by Margaret E. Hitt from Herbert Henry Dow High School in Midland, Michigan with a request for our Artificial Eccrine Perspiration.  Margaret is working on a cortisol biosensor to objectively test stress for astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) and was in need of a sweat solution that closely mimicked actual human sweat, a very neat application!  This led us to look further into, and learn about, a wonderful program that is forward-looking and just plain cool: Dow High Space Farmers

Here’s a description of the program, and the scientific team, from their website:

 “An energetic group of Michigan students from Midland’s Dow High School, who are also Space Botany Researchers and growing future scientists in STEM.   We are part of NASA-sponsored programs, “Growing Beyond Earth” and “NASA HUNCH” (High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware).

We stay in close touch with NASA scientists, conducting space botany research based on the rigorous procedures, while also keeping touch with our creative and critical-thinking side through student-proposed original research and experimentation.  We present our research to NASA scientists and administrators in the GBE Research Sympoisum, International Space Station Research & Development Conference, and Michigan Space Grant Consortium Conference. 

As someone who has long-struggled to keep my tomato and cucumber plants alive, this is just mind-blowing to me that the Dow High Space Farmers are researching ways to grow in space!  I mistakenly thought that Matt Damon’s farming scene from “The Martian” was pure science-fiction, but it seems like the youth of H.H. Dow High School are turning this into a reality.  Please visit their site if you’d like to learn more about this fascinating program.