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Seedling germinated from seed that orbited the moon!

District science teacher Brian Bixler got exciting news this spring when he learned he would soon be the recipient of an Artemis “Moon Tree.”  The tree was planted in a school ceremony held on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.

During the Artemis 1 unmanned launch in 2022, NASA continued an experiment begun by the Apollo 14’s 1971 moon flight. The experiment involved sending seeds from five tree species into lunar orbit to see if extended weightlessness would affect seed germination or seedling growth. When those seeds were returned to Earth, they were germinated and grew in U.S. Forest Service facilities. Besides the study group, many of the seedlings were given away to state forestry centers, universities, schools and other organizations. The trees are a tangible piece of space exploration that can be shared across the country.

Mr. Bixler’s successful application for a Moon Tree was in recognition of Willamette’s name change and the new chapter of the school.

“I am very excited our school will be able to grow this piece of living Artemis history as we get to see the first woman and person of color go to the moon in the fall of 2025,” said Bixler. “We are inspiring what NASA calls the ‘Artemis Generation,’ a group of students that will get to experience bigger and bigger moon landings and exploration just like that of the Apollo Generation.”

Willamette’s third grade team offered opportunities for all of their students to be involved. Students who were interested in being a digger, waterer or mulcher wrote persuasive essays on why they should be one of the seven students chosen from each class.  All students read about the trees that took a trip to the moon and recreated a NASA image in various art forms. The students will also be invited to write a haiku with the winning entry to be read at the formal dedication ceremony on the fall of 2025.

Click here for more information about the NASA Moon Trees.