Is It Alive? An Idea from NASA Explorer Schools Professional Development

Colleen Orman, a NASA Explorer Schools teacher at Oceanair Elementary, attended a recent Fingerprints of Life e-professional development session. She used one of the additional resources suggested during the live Web seminar, a lesson called “Is It Alive?”
Oceanair Elementary School
Her students tested soil samples representing soil from a site on Mars. They investigated ways to determine which soil samples had life forms. After coming up with parameters to judge what would be considered living organisms, students observed each sample and recorded their observations.

Read more about Colleen’s experiences with this activity in the NASA Explorer Schools Fingerprints of Life: Extremophiles forum in NEON. The complete write-up on this activity is available in that forum.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

New Robotic Lunar Lander Prototype Relates to NES Teaching Materials

Prototype lunar roverA new generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers will aid in the exploration of airless bodies such as the moon and asteroids. The design is based on cutting-edge technology, which allows precision landing in high-risk but high-priority areas. This technology enables NASA to achieve scientific and exploration goals in previously unexplored locations.

These new landers are a great tie-in to two NES Virtual Campus teaching modules: 
   • Math and Science @ Work: Lunar Surface Instrumentation module. 
   • Lunar Nautics: Designing a Mission to Live and Work on the Moon. 
Connections like this will help your students see that the things they learn in school have a real-world connection to what is happening at NASA right now! 

Read more about this exciting new prototype in the NASA Explorer Schools NEON forums Math and Science @ Work: Lunar Surface Instrumentation module and Lunar Nautics: Designing a Mission to Live and Work on the Moon.

NASA Research Team Reveals Moon Has Earth-like Core

Artist concept showing lunar core. Solid inner core surrounded by a fluid outer core surrounded by a partial melt area.Are you looking for an extension for the Lunar Surface Instrumentation Content Module on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus? Bring current NASA discoveries into your classroom with this article!

State-of-the-art seismological techniques applied to Apollo-era data suggest our moon has a core similar to Earth’s. This new discovery tells us that the moon may have created and maintained its own strong magnetic field at one point. The study details how the seismological instruments used for lunar exploration have unveiled new information regarding the moon’s core.

Read more about this exciting new finding in the NES Math and Science @ Work – Lunar Surface Instrumentation forum in NEON. Register, log in, join the NASA Explorer Schools group and find the forum. The complete write-up on this discovery is available there.

Potlatch Students Recycle Water for the Moon!

Are you looking for a classroom project that helps students learn about water purification as they work in groups? Like NES educator Laura Wommack, you should check out the Water Limitation Management Water Recycling activity, an extension of the Engineering Design Challenge, Water Filtration.

Laura Wommack, NES educator at Potlatch Junior-Senior High School, completed the Waste Limitation Management Water Recycling Design Challenge with her eighth-grade students. This NASA project challenges students build a water purification system that could be used on the moon. Learn how she used this contest to motivate her students. 

Read about Wommack’s experiences in the NES NEON forum, Engineering Design Challenge: Plant Growth Chamber. Look for the title “Eighth Grade Students Complete Waste Limitation Management Water Recycling Activity.”

Learn more about the Waste Limitation Management Water Recycling Design Challenge at the Teachers Corner.

Egg Drop-An Idea for a Family Night Event

The lesson from the NASA Explorer Schools module Lunar Nautics: Lunar Base Supply Egg Drop makes a great family night activity. Students and their parents design and construct a package for the raw egg payload. The package should allow the raw egg payload to be recovered unharmed (both the shell and yolk should be intact) when dropped from a second story (height of at least 9.144 meters).

Ask the local fire department to bring a ladder and drop the eggs from the ladder.

Add a Mathematics Component to On Target

Cover: On the Moon educator guideOne of the challenges in education is to modify an activity to address objectives in multiple subject areas, challenging students to use skills from different subject areas to solve a problem. NASA Explorer Schools educator Chris Deleon at Hudson Middle School added a twist to the On Target content module that reached beyond the fundamental standards the activity covers.

Read how Chris incorporated a mathematics component into the NES module On Target to give his students a better sense of what it would be like to work for NASA and solve a very complicated problem. 

Chris’ modification is documented in the On the Moon Educator Guide: On Target forum in NEON.