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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Boricua students excel at NASA competition

The team from Dorado Academy in Dorado, directed by Veronica Ortiz and Ingrid Ocasio, was a winner in the Best High School in Innovative Experiment category with “Jupiter Space Monkeys.”

By The Star Staff

Teams of students and mentors from Puerto Rico excelled at the recent international “Plant the Moon Challenge,” taking home top prizes for their innovative experiments that support NASA’s future missions to the moon and Mars.

The “Plant the Moon Challenge” is a global competition that challenges students to develop techniques for growing vegetables in lunar soil. The teams used the CLASS Exolith Lab’s lunar soil simulator to conduct experiments over eight weeks, with the goal of understanding how to use lunar soil to provide nutritious crops for future missions.

The NASA Space Grant Consortium, in collaboration with the Institute of Competition Sciences (ICS), facilitated the participation of students and educators from across Puerto Rico, covering the costs of materials and offering professional development for educators.

The ICS hired a panel of program executives and scientists from industry and NASA to determine the winners of the “Best in Show” award. The teams from Puerto Rico won three international awards:

– Best Middle School in Experimental Design: “Space Cadets of Troop 690” by the Boy Scouts of America in Camuy, led by José Solís.

– Best High School in Innovative Experiment: “Creative Moon Lab Botanicals” by Creative Homeschoolers Inc. in Mayagüez, directed by Micheline Braffett.

– Best High School in Innovative Experiment: “Jupiter Space Monkeys” by Dorado Academy in Dorado, directed by Veronica Ortiz and Ingrid Ocasio.

Gerardo Morell, director of Puerto Rico’s Space Scholarships program, praised the students and the experience the challenge provided them.

“I am very proud of all the students who participated and their mentors,” he said. “Everyone has improved their science skills and learned to work together as a team to solve this NASA Challenge. I know they will continue to benefit from this experience academically and professionally.”

The “Plant the Moon Challenge” will be offered again in the spring semester of 2025.

More information can obtained by contacting Gerardo Morell, director, Puerto Rico NASA Space Grant Consortium, and Puerto Rico director, NASA EPSCoR Program, by email at or accessing the portal:

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1 comentario

Vanatta Thomas
Vanatta Thomas
05 jul

Could you provide more details on the slope development process and the team behind its creation?

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