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Astronauts attach their individual food containers to a food tray with fabric fasteners. The tray itself connects either to the wall or to the astronauts' laps. Astronauts open the food packages with scissors and eat with a knife, fork and spoon. Each shuttle packs enough food to last the length of the mission, and then some.

A Safe Haven food system provides every astronaut with an extra three weeks' worth of food -- 2, extra calories a day -- just in case the crew encounters an emergency. These foods are typically dehydrated for a longer shelf life. Astronauts may have plenty of food to eat, but being in space can put a damper on their appetites.

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Without gravity, food aromas waft away before they make it to the nose. When you can't smell food very well, you can't really taste it, either. And because fluids tend to rise to the top half of astronauts' bodies, the crew members usually have perpetually stuffy noses. Salt , pepper, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise are available to enhance the flavor of the food, but even then, the condiments are different from their terrestrial counterparts -- salt and pepper have to be suspended in liquid so the particles don't float away.

So astronauts are able to eat fairly normal food with the aid of several contraptions and packaging tricks. But what happens when they spill or a rogue, floating meatball makes contact with their space suits?

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out of the scientists garden a story of water and food Manual

Herbs like basil, mint, and thyme work well in classrooms because they grow quickly, as does aloe vera, which requires hardly any maintenance. Older students can not only handle the responsibility of caring for plants in the classroom, they can also work with more challenging varieties of plants.

They can even begin designing experiments by choosing subjects and isolating variables. For example, they might try sprouting the same species in different types of soils, or do the opposite, and test out a variety of seeds in the soil native to your area. Working with plant clones is also an easy way to introduce the notion that different living things reproduce in different ways — a biological fundamental that may very well amaze your students.

You could also connect these activities to lessons in history and geography: a unit about Eastern Europe or Ireland, for example.

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The way leaves change color in the fall is fascinating no matter how old you are, and discovering the different pigments which make that change possible is a great way for students to begin learning about photosynthesis. Try out this activity near the start of the school year, when the leaves in your area are likely still green.

Then, when the leaves start changing in the fall, make sure to reflect back on the experiment and see if your class could predict what colors their local trees would become. Starting in sixth grade, students are ready to truly start experimenting with plants. They can begin using the scientific method to perform and design plant science experiments, and begin exploring the many places where plant science intersects with engineering, chemistry, physics.

Out of the Scientists Garden: A Story of Water and Food

Understanding photosynthesis is a key launching point for plant science explorations in high school and beyond. However, all too often photosynthesis is taught as a complex chemical equation, which can be difficult for students to remember or comprehend. It also helps them remember the elements necessary for photosynthesis to occur: light, water, and carbon.

Why is Science important in early years?

The idea that plants need light is something younger schoolchildren can easily grasp. Students could conduct experiments to see what color of light different plant species prefer. You could also challenge your them to design and build shoebox mazes for plants to navigate while growing towards the light.

Easy Plant Science Experiments for the Classroom

With these experiments, you can either give your students a clear goal and directions to follow, or you can encourage your students to create their own hypotheses and design experiments to test them. As your students gain more knowledge of biology and ecology, you can incorporate plant science experiments into larger units about the environment. For example, here is a simple experiment in which students test how man-made chemicals affect the growth of algae.

This Farm of the Future Uses No Soil and 95% Less Water

This water filtration experiment demonstrates how essential plants are for the welfare of our soil and water. To get started, create three miniature milk-carton landscapes: one with living plants, one with dead leaves and sticks, and one with no plant matter at all. The landscape with plants should have the clearest groundwater of all.

To take this experiment to a higher level, have your students perform a couple of chemical tests on your groundwater using paper test strips. You may be surprised to discover what chemicals the soil contains! Classroom plant science is about much more than basic agriculture. It can be incredibly rewarding for your students and, through hands-on experience, give them lessons in problem solving, patience, diligence and teamwork that will last a lifetime.

Check out more plant science links over on our Pinterest board , and tell us about your plant science experiments, too. What plant science hypotheses have your students tested? What have you grown in your classroom? Your email address will not be published. Supplement your curriculum across subject areas with these 8 easy activities with a sustainability theme for middle school students.