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Space Farm Review by Kelly Burgess

Geek & Co. Science
Thames & Kosmos
301 Friendship Street
Providence, RI 02903

Space Farm is a fun agricultural kit with an extraterrestrial twist! Intended for ages 8 and up, this kit is really three projects in one, allowing kids to grow Tiger Jaws in a mini greenhouse dome, grow garden cress in a nutrient gel solution inside hydroponic tubes without soil, and do activities like launch a paper rocket, create a Mars lander parachute, and discover how satellites orbit the earth! This kit can be purchased for $19.99.

The purpose of this kit is to get kids thinking about how we could grow plants in space. What is needed? What if there were no soil? What if there were no water? What is there were no sunlight? This kit answers these questions and more. 

The first project we did was planting the Tiger’s Jaw seeds. My husband took this on as a weekend project with our 8-year old son, Holden. They went over the instructions and set up the soil in the pots, and I watched them as Holden excitedly planted the seeds himself. He was really paying attention! It made a great father-son activity. Holden carefully used the included dropper to water each seed and then placed the dome on top. We watched as the days went by for signs of growth.  It took some time, but we were not disappointed! In fact, I was greatly impressed that every single seed he planted actually sprouted! Every couple of days, we removed the dome to give it some air for a few hours, watered it again, and placed the dome back on top. It’s been a couple of months, and while the growth has been slow, most of the plants have survived, and we continue to watch them with interest!

The second project we did was planting the garden cress in the hydroponic tubes. I did this one with Holden on another weekend. This was actually pretty fascinating, and even my 11-year old daughter and her neighborhood friends made their way into the kitchen to watch us mix up and "cook" the nutrient gel mixture in the microwave. It was so cool how it thickened as it cooled! And the kit came with capsules of powdered coloring so that one tube had green gel and the other one had blue, adding to the fun factor. When the gel was ready in the tubes, Holden placed the seeds on top, and we put the caps on top and placed them in the Space Farm. Low and behold, it was only about a day before they all sprouted! We could hardly believe how fast they grew into that nutrient gel without any additional watering! Holden got to see how the plants survived by getting both their moisture and their nutrients from that gel underneath the seeds. Once the cress developed leaves, we removed the lids and continued to watch them grow for weeks to come. That was really cool!

The third portion of this kit is meant to keep your child busy learning about space topics while waiting for growth to happen on the planting projects. There are three more activities here.

One activity uses paper rockets that you cut out from the included materials in the kit. The included booklet explains all about how rockets launch into space and where their propulsion comes from. Then this concept is demonstrated through the use of the paper rocket and straw included in the kit, along with a balloon and string which you must provide.

A second activity in this portion talks about a Mars landing. It explains how parachutes are used to facilitate this and how that works. Then this concept is demonstrated by using the paper cutout of a Mars vehicle and paper clips included in the kit, along with a paper towel, tissue, ruler, glue, string, and scissors which you must provide. Instructions are provided on how to build a parachute for your paper Mars lander and launch it from a high place to see how it works.

The final activity in this portion is about why satellites go around the Earth. It talks all about inertia, friction, gravity, speed, and orbit and how those things come together to keep satellites in place as they circle the earth. Then this concept is demonstrated by using a ball provided by you in an open space and observing its motion as you move it in different ways and in different directions. 

The included booklet makes this kit very educational. Not only do your kids get to see these processes in action, but you can use the booklet to provide little science lessons as you go through the various projects so your kids also understand what’s really happening beneath the surface of these activities.

Not only that, but this kit was just plain FUN! The included Space Farm itself is adorable with its little greenhouse dome with tiny plant pots inside, its space-themed background, its little stand-up paper aliens to keep the plants company as they grow, and its cool hydroponic tubes that stand up in the base. 

I have no doubt this Space Farm will continue to provide intrigue for my young son as the plants continue to grow. The booklet also provides instructions for how and when to transplant the plants to bigger growing pots so you can continue to enjoy them for some time to come. In addition, there’s an information card included that tells all about the fascinating Tiger’s Jaw plants. 

This kit is sure to please the science enthusiasts in your family, too! We thoroughly enjoyed it.

-Product review by Kelly Burgess, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September, 2016