GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Students at Innovation Early College High School are pushing the limits of lunar landscapes, participating in the Plant the Moon Challenge.

“The Artemis Mission. They’re making a trip from Earth to Mars, and the moon is going to be like this pit stop, so we’re trying to find ways to incorporate nutrients into the soil, so they’ll be able to grow plants,” said Shanise Scott, a student at Innovation Early College High School.

The program was made possible by the Institute of Competition Sciences in collaboration with NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute. Students of all ages around the world participate in the Plant the Moon Challenge.

“It gets the students involved and to help them learn like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is something that I’m really interested in, maybe I want to do this when I get older,’ or it’s the fact that you’re also making such a big impact since NASA is taking this information that we collect and using it for future expeditions to the moon and then possibly to Mars,” said Brooke Brannan, another student.

Participating teams received a soil sample made to replicate lunar material found on the moon.

“It’s not like dirt here on Earth, it has no living things in it, there’s no organic matter, there’s no nutrients in it, and so what these students have to do is they have to figure out how can we grow something in this lunar simulant that was sent to us,” said Earth and Environmental Science and Biology teacher Klara Higgins.

Students said bringing life to uninhabitable soil is not easy.

“Especially since we had spring break, most of the work that we had died off, so we were kind of freaking out a little bit,” said student Ashari Grimes.

For the students, the challenge taught them a lesson beyond the stars.

“We have a connection now on a deeper level, like a friendship more. Usually, it’s not just group members, ‘oh, we’re just working together,’ it’s more of a friendship. We connect. We have fun. We laugh, and we still manage to do our project at the same time,” Grimes said.