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Ruberg Presents NASA Hydroponic Work at International Conference

Tue Mar 26 2013

Read Laurie Ruberg's NASATalk blog about the conference.

NASA's work applying hydroponics to global climate change, human health, and extreme growing environments in space served as the backdrop at a conference in Mexico for two presentations by Dr. Laurie Ruberg, associate director of the Center for Educational Technologies, home of the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future program at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, WV.

Ruberg spoke at the 8th International Course and Congress on Hydroponics in Toluca, Mexico, March 14-16. The event targeted people already involved in hydroponics as well as newcomers to this highly productive and profitable technique of food production. Also invited were local governments and humanitarian institutions, which were introduced to programs that can benefit small and medium producers, farmers, unemployed persons, elderly retired persons, and handicapped persons.

Ruberg's presentations focused on creating K-16 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational activities and programs that integrate data sets and science concepts and inquiry led by NASA scientists and engineers.

Her first presentation, "NASA Responds to Climate Changes and Human Health Issues with Hydroponic Solutions," introduced data collected by NASA satellites as well as ground-based research. The major indications that Earth's climate is changing are presented with summary data for each indicator. This talk integrates the web-based instructional materials created by the Exploring Global Climate Change through Problem-based Learning team at the Center for Educational Technologies with funding from NASA Innovations in Climate Education. This project resulted in the addition of six new modules—Global Temperatures, Biodiversity, Drought, Human Health Effects, Ice Caps and Sea Levels, and Volcanoes—to the award-winning Exploring the Environment website.

Her second talk, "NASA Studies of Hydroponics for Extreme Environments and to Optimize Plant Production," showed how NASA research to study how plants could be used in an engineered, controlled environment to provide oxygen, potable water, and food for a human crew on a long duration space mission has led to a number of significant and ongoing plant science research studies, including spin-offs that have supported the development of horticultural techniques and growth systems widely used today.