Heather Mercieca selected as NASA Finalist

 Heather is one of four teen finalists in the nation that were selected in a NASA competition where they were prompted to design a 3D container that would aid space travel. She came up with the ECOntainer which hosts a mini ecosystem that takes advantage of ant-plant mutualism: when ants and plants engage in a partnership that is beneficial to both parties. Based on this idea, the ECOntainer creates a secure environment for plant growth in space. The ants dig tunnels through the soil which aids in decomposition, the spread of nutrients, and soil aeration. Ants can even protect the plant from microbial pathogens. The ECOntainer would act as a key component in sustaining life during space travel.