What if we left Earth?

The Means to grow our own food would be crucial

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AstroPod is


Attention all Astronauts in Training! Do you want to live and conduct research on Mars? Well, you’d have to learn how to grow your own food first. AstroPod is a project-based learning module that will teach you how to sustain yourself on Mars by growing your own plant through our simulated Martian 3D-Printed Smart Pod.

AstroPod was designed and built by a team of CalTech scientists and engineers who teach and study electric engineering, biochemistry and molecular biophysics. The winner of the 2015 International NASA Space Apps Challenge, AstroPod will challenge students to foster genuine scientific discovery through engineering controls, data analysis, and plant biology.

Students will be exposed to multiple fields of STEM in order to grow their own plants in a simulated Martian environment. They will develop skills in multiple areas such as teamwork, plant biology, interdisciplinary learning and project communication while sparking a passion for scientific research. Students even have the opportunity to publish their research online using archive.org.

With broad curriculum options available such as in-depth computer programming and real world issues (global warming and the world food supply), AstroPod is the unique, project-based solution for schools to help their students ignite a passion for STEM. AstroPod will have your students shooting for the stars and beyond!


Learn Plant biology

Explore botany on both Earth and Mars with topics such as plant life cycle and growth and phases of plants. Interactive plant biology lessons are also applicable to real-world topics such as the worldwide food shortage and climate change.


Engineer controls

Learn to 3D print your own AstroPod components and work with advanced scientific materials such as temperature and humidity sensors. Program your own pod hardware and software to successfully foster plant growth.


3D Print Components

Gain experience in 3D Printing technology by printing the AstroPod’s exterior and attachments such as the camera mount and temperature sensor. The AstroPod package includes rolls of 3D Printing filament and loaned used of a 3D printer.


Time-lapse Plant Videos

Participate in interactive learning by watch time-lapse videos of plants. Identify factors of plant growth and discuss methods of fostering future growth through video technology.


Change the Environment

Interact with the simulated Martian environment by altering controls such as humidity and temperature. Help students to explore the natural world and learn the most important factors for plant growth.


Analyze complex data

Collect and utilize data by measuring the plant and other metrics such as temperature and water levels. Compare this data with other groups and facilitate analysis and communication by continuously updating the team project page with new data.

Curriculum options

To allow for additional flexibility, both 6 and 10-week course plans are available for summer and school year sessions. In-depth additional topics such as 3D Printing, advanced electronics and external competitions and research are also available. With so many options available, your students will never be bored!

10-Week Course Plan

STEM platform


The AstroPod hardware includes interactive components such as a 3D-Printed exterior, a water pump and a programed controller with custom circuitry. Students will combine their knowledge of engineering and hardware with plant biology in order to sustain their plant.

Students will gain math experience by collecting and analyzing data through the team page. Statistics include vital metrics for the plant, like pressure and humidity, as well as metrics from the temperature sensors.

The AstroPod control systems will also teach students computer software and programming. AstroPod combines all the fields of STEM together to form a truly immersive experience for students.

Interdisciplinary NGSS

AstroPod meets and exceeds the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) criteria of Crosscutting Concepts, Science and Engineering Practices and Disciplinary Core Ideas. Through its innovative combination of hands-on exploration and interdisciplinary research, students will become proficient in the NGSS standards of Growth and Development of Organisms, Earth and the Solar System, Developing Possible Solutions and more.


Explore connections between plant biology and software, statistics and computer programming, and much more. Students will develop a holistic view of STEM while nurturing their plants.


Students will investigate the natural world directly by growing their own plant and will use engineering concepts, such as 3D Printing and programming sensors, to design and build systems. They will constantly monitor and adjust the AstroPod systems in order to ensure successful plant growth.


By building a self-containing pod, planting seeds and continuously monitoring plant health, students will gain experience in each of the four core domains: Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering.

Sponsors / Partners


NASA/ Jet Propulsion Labaratory


National Science Foundation



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