Tag Archives: Recycling

Sort of Like Earth

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A different approach to teaching the water cycle and the carbon cycle might be to compare them to how the Environmental Control and Life Support System, or ECLSS, works on the International Space Station. You can use the DIY Podcast module: Recycling to make the comparison. Recycling on the space station takes its cues from Mother Nature herself.

Like Earth, the space station has a series of systems that come together to make life possible. Even though two-thirds of Earth is covered in water, that amount would have been depleted long ago if it weren’t for nature’s water cycle. The station began with a clean supply of water on board for its crew. Then, like on Earth, the water is recycled to use again. Trees, plants and phytoplankton on Earth recycle carbon dioxide and oxygen through the carbon cycle. The station’s ECLSS has a Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly and an Oxygen Generation System to supply its inhabitants with air to breathe.

Illustration of Earth's water cycle

Students can build podcast episodes or other multimedia projects about Earth’s cycles using the resources in the Recycling module. The resources include a water cycle video, a video of the ECLSS water cycle and a carbon cycle illustration.

Here are a few more resources that you can use for teaching Earth’s cycles:

DIY Podcast: Recycling
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Lessons in Recycling

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NASA has educational products to supplement your lessons as you create a multimedia product about recycling.

The Cleaning Water Activity is a lesson in which students build a water filtering system from a 2-liter plastic bottle and then test its efficiency. This lesson is also available in Spanish.Waste Limitation Management and Recycling Design Challenge educator guide

The Environmental Control and Life Support Systems Water Filtration Challenge is an educator guide with background information and activities. The purpose of the guide is for students to learn about the space station ECLSS that purifies waste water. Groups of students build and test water filtration systems made from 0.5-liter water bottles. As a class, students use ideas from the best water filters to create a classroom design.

For more resources, refer to the Waste Limitation Management and Recycling Design Challenge. This guide has background information about the properties of water, the water cycle and the ECLSS. The purpose of the guide is to be a starting point for students to “begin researching and answering the challenging questions of how to maintain human habitations on the moon and other planets in our solar system.”

Students are offered five activities to try different methods of water filtering and purification. The design challenge section has students design and test a complete water recycling system based on the methods they’ve already tested.

DIY Podcast: Recycling

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Recycling: The New Do-It-Yourself Podcast Module

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“One of astronauts’ favorite things to do is breathe.”

A presenter at a recent Marshall Space Flight Center award ceremony pointed out this fact as he introduced an award recipient who had worked on the International Space Station carbon dioxide removal assembly.

Of course, breathing is important. But so is recycling, especially on the space station. You won’t do the first without the second.

With our newest DIY Podcast module, Recycling, you and your students can use NASA content to create a podcast or other multimedia product with NASA video, audio clips and images to show the importance of recycling in a closed system. Space recycling is not the same as recycling aluminum, paper, plastic, etc., on Earth: Instead, this module is about recycling our most vital needs — air and water.

The module includes sound bites from an interview with NASA microbiologist Monsi Roman (pronounced ro-MAHN). She worked on the Environmental Control and Life Support System for the space station from its inception and was able to see the finished product in use by the station crew. She is currently working on life support systems to sustain a crew on missions beyond Earth’s orbit. Roman explains the purpose of ECLSS, how it was tested and why it’s important.

A couple of sound bites from astronaut Mike Fincke explain how the life support system removes carbon dioxide from the air and what happens to other space trash. We have a few clips from 2009 of the Expedition 19 station crew taking the inaugural drinks of recycled water.

The animation clips in this module illustrate the chemical processes that occur as the ECLSS recycles.

In all, we have 23 video clips, 16 audio clips and 16 images to start you on the road to Recycling.

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DIY Podcast: Recycling

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