Cross-curricular study of book “The Martian” involves hands-on science

Jennifer Stallo teaches grades 11 and 12 at Live Oaks Career Development Campus. She recently won a soil test kit from Ohio Corn Education. Stallo used the kit with a student in a pilot program for a cross-curricular study. The study will be implemented on a larger scale in the next school year.

The lesson unit revolves around the book “The Martian”. Both English and science classes would read the novel and explore some of the science discussed within it. One of the first major feats stranded astronaut Mark Watney must tackle is how to sustain a sufficient caloric intake. He winds up turning his habitat into a potato garden. With this as the stated goal—produce the most bountiful supply of calories in the quickest time in order to survive—we used the soil testing kit. I had my student test several different samples to determine the sample most suitable for potato growth. When we go through the study next year, we’ll then have students select the best soil and grow potatoes in a bag or bucket in the classroom.