TORONTO, April 26 /CNW/ - The Ontario Centres of Excellence
(OCE)-sponsored Tomatosphere Project, embraced by over 9,200 Canadian
classrooms, has yielded a bumper crop of successes. Engaging over 500,000
students from grades 3 to 10, with unanimously enthusiastic evaluations from
teachers, Tomatosphere is the 2007 Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute
(CASI) Alouette Award winner. The CASI Alouette Award recognizes an
outstanding contribution to advancement in Canadian space technology,
application, science or engineering.
Tomatosphere launched in 2000 under the direction of chief scientist
Dr. Michael Dixon and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk.
The project began with tomato seeds exposed to two simulated Martian
environments. Students in Canadian classrooms were given the "seeds from
space," along with terrestrial seeds and guided through their conducting of
blind-controlled growth experiments to determine if the seeds - and plants
resulting from them - behaved differently.
Since the project's inception, several astronauts - including Marc
Garneau, Mike Fincke and Thirsk himself - have taken Tomatosphere seeds to
expose them to space conditions. In 2006, students compared terrestrial seeds
to those that had spent 19 months aboard the International Space Station.
OCE supports Tomatosphere as part of its initiatives to inspire the next
generation of science and technology innovators. Programs like this spark a
lifelong interest in youth, and ignite their imaginations with the
possibilities of the future. Richard Worsfold, Director of Business
Development, Ontario Centres of Excellence, accepted the Award last night at
the CASI AERO2007 Awards Banquet in Toronto.
"It takes 15 to 20 years to become a scientist; we've got to get kids
hooked now. To be competitive, Canada needs bright minds focused on innovation
and discovery in science. Tomatosphere responded to the urgent need for
educating young Canadians in the unique and challenging areas of space life
sciences," said Worsfold.
About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc.
Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc. drives the commercialization of
cutting-edge research across key market sectors to build the economy of
tomorrow and secure Ontario's global competitiveness. In doing this, OCE
fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and
entrepreneurs and is a key partner with Ontario's industry, universities,
colleges, research hospitals, investors and governments. Celebrating 20 years
of innovation in 2007, OCE's five Centres work in communications and
information technology, earth and environmental technologies, energy,
materials and manufacturing and photonics.
For further information:
For further information: Karen Tinsley, Media Relations, Ontario Centres
of Excellence, at (416) 762-5704 or Ann Holtby, Marketing and Communications,
Ontario Centres of Excellence, at (416) 861-1092