Ted Tagami, founder and CEO of education company Magnitude.io, was presented with the 2018 International Space Station (ISS) Innovation Award in STEM Education at the ISS R&D Conference last week. The award is in recognition of the company’s ExoLab, an educational platform that allows students to engage in real ISS National Lab plant biology experiments.
Specifically, ExoLab gives middle and high school students the opportunity to compare seed germination on the ISS versus on Earth. Through this experiment, participating classes run a control experiment on Earth in an ExoLab, a 4-in x 4-in x 8-in plant growth chamber, which transmits data via Wi-Fi. The experiment is conducted on Arabidopsis thaliana, a model plant species used in numerous scientific investigations. Magnitude.io’s goal is to reach students at a large scale—50 million students by 2024.
In addition to the ExoLab itself, Magnitude.io provides participating classes with a subscription to nutrients for the experiment, a one-year subscription to lessons and data analysis tools with the Magnitude.io Learning Management Platform, and virtual access to the experiment onboard the ISS. The students use the Magnitude.io Learning Management Platform to compare data and images from their Earth-based experiment with data from the same experiment that was done (either prerecorded or in real time) on the ISS.
By collaborating with CASIS, Space Station Explorers, and NASA, Tagami has developed an innovative means of facilitating new partnerships. For example, to develop the flight hardware, Magnitude.io partnered with ISS National Lab commercial services provider Space Tango, Inc.
Magnitude.io’s educational program emphasizes the use of the ISS as part of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum and aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards. These standards are currently used in 16 states and the District of Columbia and focus on teaching research-based, up-to-date science information in K-12 education.
ExoLab is an innovative means of teaching students about basic plant biology, how to work with data sets, and gravity’s impact on living organisms. Through this unique platform, millions of students will have the opportunity to engage in scientific inquiry in an unprecedented way.