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Martian Greenhouse 3.0

A Collaborative Learning Adventure

Grades 7-12

Fall 2022










The Martian Greenhouse Project 3.0 design team, in collaboration with AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics), is seeking systems designed to produce food for human habitation on Mars. These prototype systems will need to be self-sufficient and fit within a relatively small space. The greenhouse will provide habitat for the growth of a variety or varieties of edible plants.


Facilitating teachers, along with their students, will be introduced to industry mentors in an experiential learning adventure. Each team will have at least one industry (SME) mentor. Our design team will support with resources for project management and facilitation strategies. Each team will have the freedom to design and innovate according to their passion and perseverance. 


Students will be introduced to real engineers and scientists in order to think critically in the framework of aerospace exploration and development of skills such as problem solving, project management, public speaking, research skills, engineering practices, teamwork, planning, self-sufficiency, and goal setting.



Students research the subject, meet with mentors, maintain a collaborative portfolio of findings or results, and create a final product. The final product may be a video, presentation, website, or anything that resonates with or helps to solve the guiding question: "How do we grow plants on Mars?" You may use the RFP (Request for Proposal) seen below on this webpage, or design your own RFP with your mentor.


Schedule for Excellence:

Synchronous Meetups – Each school is expected to attend bi-weekly status report meetings covering research, technical questions, challenges, and project management updates. These meetings are usually in the evening. TBA according to team availability.


Learning Approach 

Student Driven / Teacher Facilitated / Aerospace Industry Inspired and Informed

Students will do the work via experiential, hands-on, and applied learning.

Facilitating Teachers facilitate a relationship between their students and subject matter experts. Teachers are not expected to be subject matter experts. Teachers will communicate in order to build a digital community and share, catalog, and record successes and ideas.  

Mentors inspire and inform by simply listening to students and offering advice. Mentors will be provided with resources for "Best Practices" and encouraged to communicate with other mentors to give our teams a global network of support. Mentors do not teach, create content and curriculum, or handle classroom management. 

Collaboration Between Teams

The combined network of our mentors and teams will ensure that all parties are supported. Teams are highly encouraged to share solutions and help other teams. 

Marvelous Martian Mentors LINK

Final Presentations (each team presents at a day/time TBA)

November 2022

Design Team

  • Eric Wilson - · Project Management Mentor, CEO CPI Group (Colorado School of Mines, PhD Student, Space Resources Program)

  • Jim Christensen - Executive Director of ShareSpace Education, the education arm of the Aldrin Family Foundation

  • Dr. Emily Matula - Extravehicular Activity (EVA, spacewalks) Flight Controller, NASA Johnson Space Center

  • Phnam Bagley - Industrial Design, Space Architect

  • Tom Kirk - Lead for Facilitating Teachers

  • Anne Tweed - Director of STEM Learning Solutions, LLC in Denver

  • Consuelo Godfrey - PathLight Belize

  • Craig Merrett - AIAA, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, Clarkson University

  • Gregg Cannady - · Project Coordinator / Communication










For more information, please contact:

Gregg Cannady –


Help Wanted: Mentors

Martian Greenhouse 3.0 Request for Proposal

(Sample RFP)

Overview: The Martian Greenhouse Project 3.0 team, in collaboration with AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) and the Aldrin Family Foundation, is seeking systems designed to produce food for human habitation on Mars. These prototype systems will need to be self-sufficient and fit within a relatively small space. The greenhouse will provide habitat for the growth of a variety or varieties of edible plants.


  1. Design of Structure

    1. Student teams are asked to design a self-contained greenhouse module with a volume no larger than 1 meter3. This volume includes all supporting equipment.

    2. Teams will create a set of procedures and plans that may be shared that allow others to duplicate their design.


  1. Growth of Plants

    1. Teams will provide a rational for their selection of a crop or crops to be produced.

    2. Teams will submit procedures and a time-line for planting, maintenance and harvest of their crop(s).

    3. Teams will provide a recipe for preparation of their crop(s) as a food source.


  1. Use of Water

    1. Teams will identify the amount of water that will be consumed by the system and create a water budget for their greenhouse design.

    2. Teams will address systems to limit use of water.


  1. Use of Energy

    1. Teams will identify the amount of energy that will be consumed by the system and create an energy budget for their greenhouse design.

    2. Teams will account for lighting and generation of power.


  1. Efficiency of the System

    1. Teams will calculate and submit a chart defining the efficiency of their system by comparing total use of energy and water to the total calories of food produced.


  1. Submissions

    1. Teams have the option of submitting one of the following packages

      1. Technical drawings and a descriptive paper,

      2. Technical drawings, a descriptive paper, and a conceptual model, or

      3. Technical drawings, a descriptive paper, and a functioning prototype

    2. Teams will create and post a brief video to YouTube that describes the process, products and learning by the team.


The RFP is designed with the idea of appealing to students with a wide range of interests and to make use of management strategies. Projects will not be judged against each other. The idea is to allow everyone a chance to compete with themselves against set functional standards.


Jim Christensen, Aldrin Family Foundation, 2021

Teachers                              School                                         Mentors           

Michael Cus                                    Our Lady of Guadeloupe                           Masha Esfandabadi & Nicole Rote

Wu, McDougall, & Itzab                   Pallotti HS                                                 Sunny Narayanan & Nutifafa Doumon

Dr. Rose & Dr. Trudi                        Astra Nova                                                 Jeffrey Umland

Peter Tlusty                                     St. Mary’s                                                   Pacifica Sommers

Michael Bruscia                              Charlottesville Catholic School                   Bryce Meyer

Melissa Sleeper                              Storm Grove MS                                        Chad Cerutti

Christina Campos                           West Oslo JH                                             Chetan Kulkarni

Nadine Francisco & Sonieda Teul   Georgetown Technical HS                         Rhonda Ahrens & Rose Worku

Christine Girtain & Dr. Kretz            Toms River HS                                           Mario Maggio   

Zenaida Romero & Melva Guerra   Our Lady of Guadeloupe                           Dr. Emilly Matula & Grace Ford

Rick Russon                                    Valor Christian High School                      Tamalee Basu

Arielle Christensen                          Wings Aerospace Pathways                      Uyen Suo

Wilson Mendoza & Guilber Mesh    Bishop Martin High School                        Dan Adamo

Dr. Joe Wagner                                Eads High School                                     Dan Adamo

Bede Adazi                                       Liberty Bells Schools                                Nikhitha C

Uzma Mazoor                                   DPS Sahiwal                                             Prakhar Jain

Adrian Ojeda Flores                      Liceo Naval C. de N. Francisco Carrasco Peruvian Mentors

Our Teams are from Belize, Nigeria, Pakistan, Virginia, New Jersey, Colorado, California, and Florida.

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NEW Fall 2022: Legacy Mentors

Students who participated in Martian Greenhouse 2.0 will be legacy mentors for Martian Greenhouse 3.0 Teams.

I feel empowered as a young female leader; showing that every female can do anything with the right mindset and do it because they love it. The most important lesson from this journey is turning problems into solutions; I found ways to grow food on Mars and to construct a carbon-free electric grid which was once thought impossible but now I know that we can make the impossible possible. These once-in-a-lifetime opportunities have taught me valuable skills like time management, communication and how to express my thoughts with others, critical thinking and it allowed me to express my creativity and collaborate with others which improved my teamwork and listening skills.

Martian Resources


AIAA FREE HS Student Membership: LINK


Descripción del proyecto en español: LINK

Thank you Aurospace

Mars Facts


3D Printed 'Artificial Leaves' Could Provide Sustainable Energy on Mars


The Cultured Meat Revolution: Singapore and Israel One Step Closer to Commercializing Lab Grown Chicken


Astronauts Enjoyed a Fresh Supply of Leafy Greens Grown on the International Space Station


Bringing Space Home: The Role of Sample Return in Space Exploration: 


This algae bioreactor can remove as much carbon dioxide as an acre of trees


Algae Caviar, Anyone? What We'll Eat on the Journey to Mars


With Bugs and Algae, One Million People Could Live in Mars Colonies


Nasa's rover makes breathable oxygen on Mars:


Clever space algae could be the key to getting humans to Mars 


NASA is learning the best way to grow food in space


Terrestrial, Atmospheric, and Space Science


3D Printed Artificial Leaves Could Generate Oxygen on Mars


Automatic Gardening


Greenhouses for Mars


Roane Lab: Applied Microbial Ecology 


Microorganisms in parched regions extract needed water from colonized rocks


Getting Water From a Stone: How Life Survives in Extreme Environments


Space agencies are learning how to make food on Mars and the moon

Mars: Vast amount of water may be locked up on planet


Sneaky New Bacteria on the ISS Could Build a Future on Mars


Nasa's rover makes breathable oxygen on Mars 


Inspirational story about a 12-year old aerospace girl /


Decades of Mars research by CU faculty and students lays the groundwork for human astronauts|LASP|CU-Boulder

AIAA Classroom Grant Program

Google Workspace

Mars Science City project in Dubai

Decades of Mars research by CU faculty and students lays the groundwork for human astronauts

Technical Sketching

Nanoracks' spinoff aims to bring food production to Earth's deserts and orbital space

In an attempt to understand "Key (Driving) Requirements, I found these resources:

Mars Greenhouses: Concepts and Challenges. Proceedings from a 1999 Workshop:


Deep Space Food Challenge - Winner

ISS Post-Flight Crew Debrief (June 1, 2022): They said one of their favorite experiments was the Veggie system, in part because they got to eat some good tasting produce at the end, but that wasn't the main reason. He said that he looked forward to opening up the plastic curtain and having the earthy, green smell of things growing blast him in the face as a break from the sterile plastic smell from the rest of the station. He said it was actually great for his mental health.

Hydroponically grown microgreens bring a little bit of planet Earth to the tastebuds and the psychology of the astronauts. Maintaining the hydroponic garden is essentially nurturing nature. It lowers blood pressure, stress levels and brings a sense of balance to the void of space. Closed loop hydroponics can help agriculturally challenged environments on the planet as well.

micor:bits Hackathon Invitation: Kevin Simmons has invited students to this FREE event. 

Students will be organized into 3 person teams and given 24 hours to solve a series of open-ended problems related to growing food in space.

Careers in Aerospace:

MAT Filtration Technologies has a system that produces food for fish based on Hybrid Autotrophic Bacteria using human feces-

Life on Mars - SpaceGeekChannel on youtube:

Could the "The Martian" Really have Grown Potatoes for Food?


Examples from MG 2.0


Descriptive Paper LINK

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Telling the Story


ConOps (Concept of Operations)


From Dr. Matula:


These are used a lot in the aerospace industry (especially the space industry!) to describe how a system or technology is going to work during a mission. You can think of them like a story, it tells the audience how something is going to work or how it will be used during its activity.


Spaceflight Example

Below is a concept of operations of how NASA was going to test an emergency abort system for a crew capsule using parachutes.

The story it tells is: 

The abort system will be loaded onto a rocket, and launched.

The abort system will separate from its launcher and the top 2 parachutes will deploy and start to slow down the abort system connected to the crew capsule. 

After the crew capsule is slow enough, the abort system will release the crew capsule.

The crew capsule will start to land using its own 2 parachutes, release them, and finally land using its 4 parachutes








Everyday Example

When I am coming up with a concept of operations, I like to imagine how I would use the technology

Ex: A canvas grocery bag design










My story:

When I leave my house to go to the grocery store, I need to take something with me to carry my groceries in.

I grab my canvas grocery bag and put it in my car.

I get to the store, take my bag in with me, pick out my watermelon, and pay for the melon.

I put the melon in my bag and I walk out of the store to my car carrying the bag by its handles


Why we use ConOps

We will use ConOps to not only tell others what we are going to do, but also helps us think about what we expect our system to do, if we are forgetting anything in our design, and to make sure our design meets all our requirements.

My bag design

-Big enough to hold a melon

-Strong enough material to hold a melon

-Light enough for me to carry around in the store

-With handles for easy grabbing


Make a ConOps diagram that either describes

-How your greenhouse will be built/deployed

-How astronauts will plant, tend, harvest plants using your greenhouse systems

-How one of the systems in your greenhouse will operate/interact with the other systems in the greenhouse


Good luck and we look forward to having you share your ConOps diagrams with the other teams.

Great CONOPS Resources

CONOPS Diagrams

PDF for the GOES-R program


Presenting Tips for Slides 

(from Eric Wilson - The SLIDE master!)

  • Identify the key message(s) on each slide

  1. Each slide should have 3-4 key points at most.  If it’s an important element of your project – like your greenhouse drawing/model – I’d say just that one key point on a slide is great.

  2. A key message can have supporting bullet points below it.  But those shouldn’t be read to the audience.  They can read faster than you can talk so just touch on the header key points on the slide then move on.

  3. If the slide is strictly pictures or graphics, make sure to have your speaker notes handy.  Doesn’t need to be a script you read – you’ll come across as a better presenter with more natural speaking.  But keeping your 2-3 key bullet points on a note you can see during the presentation will help keep you focused and moving through the content.

  • Look for ways to combine slides

  1. If there are commonalities in key points on three slides, can the supporting text be deleted?  Pictures combined?

  2. While you can certainly leave the three slides in place and talk to each one for 20 seconds, it is often more effective to make one slide and talk for 45 seconds.  Just saved 15 seconds!

  • Practice presentation timing

  1. Create the slide deck, use 1 minute per slide as guidance.

  2. When you practice the speaking portion, target 30-45s per slide.  if you find yourself going over that by a lot, look for ways to delete content.  You practice at less than your planned minute per slide because most times you’ll be excited during the live session and will talk more.

Words of Wisdom from Design Team Member Jim Christensen


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