NASA’s Exploration Design Challenge

NASA Education has hundreds of lesson plans and classroom activities that enhance the practical application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. These lessons can be used at anytime. But on occasion, NASA Education offers special opportunities that involve your students in NASA’s mission.

The newest opportunity is the Exploration Design Challenge. Students around the world from grades K-12 are invited to research and design ways to protect astronauts from space radiation. After students complete the activities, their teacher registers the students on the Exploration Design Challenge site and downloads their certificates of participation.

Students who participate will have their names flown on the test flight of the new Orion spacecraft next year.

NASA’s associate administrator for education Leland Melvin invites students
to participate in the NASA Exploration Design Challenge.

If you have never been involved in a NASA challenge before, the EDC is a good place to start. You may have time this summer to plan and prepare for participation in the 2013-2014 school year. The EDC site has videos, downloadable guides with background information, safety procedures and data collection charts.
Join teachers and students from more than 30 countries in the Exploration Design Challenge.
This post is part of a series about the NASA Exploration Design Challenge.

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NASA y Tú and You

¿Quiere usted inspirar la próxima generación? Do you want to inspire the next generation? The NASA y Tú or NASA and You website features inspirational videos of NASA people representing a variety of STEM careers.

Hispanic professionals at NASA discuss their work and their backgrounds in both Spanish and English. A downloadable poster has some of their stories on the back.

NASA y Tú poster with Spanish textNASA and You poster with English text
Download the NASA y Tu poster in Spanish or English

NASA and You Home

DIY Podcast: Exploration Careers

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Failure Analysis Equals CSI: NASA

When we interviewed materials engineer Victoria (Torey) Long for Torey Long and coworkers in the failure analysis lab the Failure Prevention module, she described the job that she and her teammates do in the failure analysis lab as NASA’s version of detective work. In their interviews, Long and materials engineer Clara Wright both mentioned something about their childhoods
that probably made them natural-born failure analysts. Long’s pastime was reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Wright liked to construct jigsaw puzzles.

If you have students who enjoy solving problems and mysteries, they probably will enjoy creating a multimedia project with the Failure Prevention module. They may also like reading the article   CSI: NASA. It is about the failure analysis lab at Kennedy Space Center.
The lab, nicknamed “Malfunction Junction,” is the place where
mysteries are solved. The article intimates that the failure
analysis team is similar to TV’s crime investigators. They investigate
mishaps with rocket hardware. Clara Wright at a microscope in the failure analysis labIf something goes wrong with a launch, this is the team to call.

The article also gives hints about the type of personalities that are better suited for this kind of work. Who knows? A future engineer   or failure analyst may be sitting in your classroom who never knew that this career choice is an option.

DIY Podcast: Failure Prevention

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Sort of Like Earth

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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One of Our Kind in Space

Teachers dedicate their lives to the next generation. As a middle school teacher, I remember doing just about anything to teach a great lesson.

Astronaut Joe Acaba was/is a middle and high school teacher. (Aren’t we always teachers, even after we step out of the classroom?) Joe taught science and math, but now he’s on the International Space Station. He became an astronaut in 2004. He has visited the station before as a mission specialist on space shuttle mission STS-119. This time he’s going to live and work on the station for several months as a flight engineer for Expeditions 31 and 32.

Alt tag: Astronaut Joe Acaba, ready for a spacewalk, wears a white spacesuit

Because he’s a teacher-turned-astronaut, education is in his blood. Visit the Teach Station website to learn about upcoming education opportunities. Don’t forget to follow Joe on Twitter and read his blog, The Great Outer Space.

Students may want to incorporate Joe’s visit to the space station into their podcast episodes using the Space Station module.

Now is a good time to learn about the International Space Station, while a teacher is on board.

 Expedition 31 crew poster with Robonaut 2   Expedition 32 crew poster

Teach Station

Expedition 31 

DIY Podcast: Space Station

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The Laws That Govern NASA

From launching rockets and flying airplanes to understanding masses and orbits or planets, NASA depends on Newton’s Laws of Motion. We have great resources for those who teach physical science. Three DIY Podcast modules include videos and audio with astronauts and NASA experts explaining the laws of motion.

Students can combine clips from Newton’s Laws,Sports Demo, and Rocket Science with their own demonstrations to create a podcast episode explaining the laws of motion.

Below I’ve listed some NASA resources that you can use with your class.

Newton's first law of motion Lunar Nautics: Newton’s Laws of Motion Activities

Navigating by Good Gyrations

Why Do the Planets Go Around the Sun?
A Short Introduction to Black Holes

The Spinning World of Spacecraft Reaction Wheels (PDF)

Fundamental Aeronautics Program: Newton’s Laws for Students

“From Stargazers to Starships” Site:

Newton and his Laws

Mass Measurements Aboard Space Station Skylab
Comparing Masses Without the Use of Gravity

Newton’s Second Law

Newton’s Third Law
Work Against an Electric Force: The Van de Graaff Generator

Motion in a Circle

Newton’s Theory of “Universal Gravitation”

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Resources for Teaching Microgravity

Although the name implies that it’s small, microgravity is a big deal to NASA. Microgravity is the environment of near weightlessness that astronauts experience as they’re orbiting Earth. The study of microgravity opens the door to research possibilities and discoveries as well as to planning for future long distance, long duration exploration.

NASA Education has resources to help students learn about microgravity that will in turn prepare them to build better podcast episodes with the Micro-g DIY Podcast module.

The Microgravity Education website is loaded with lesson plans, articles and videos about microgravity. A page of opportunities announces contests and microgravity-related events in which students and teachers may participate.

“Free Fall Ball” is an interactive game on the Microgravity Education site.

The site’s interactive Free Fall Ball game is a fun feature. Shoot baskets in normal gravity and in no gravity to see if you have the skills to play anywhere in the universe

DIY Podcast Micro-g module

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Rocketry Website

We have your rocketry needs wrapped up in one place. Have you seen NASA Education’s Rocketry website? Here’s a list straight from the source.
Rocketry Education website
Things you can do on this site:

   • Answer the question: What is a rocket?
   • Investigate and learn about rockets at NASA.
   • Learn the terms that the rocket scientists use.
   • Visit the Rocketry Image Gallery.
   • Read about the careers of rocketry experts.
   • Learn about the history of rocketry.
   • Check out lesson plans for your classroom.
   • Stay up-to-date with information about NASA-supported rocketry competitions.
   • Watch and download video and multimedia features about rocketry.
   • Browse NASA websites for information about rocketry.

    For students, the site features the interactive How Do Rockets Stack Up? in which students can compare model rockets to the real thing. The site also has an image gallery with more than 50 rocket-related images. The multimedia section has links to more images, interactive pages, videos, animations and podcasts.

    For you the teacher, the site has lesson plans, a career corner in which scientists and engineers talk about their career paths in the field of rocketry and their work at NASA, a page of opportunities for participation, and a link to related sites.

    Students will find information and media that they can use to create a first-rate podcast.

    Rocketry Education website
    Rocket Science DIY Podcast topic module
    DIY Podcast Home

    An Easy Way to Find Educational Resources

    NASA has resources aligned to national education standards to supplement your curricula. As you teach background information that will help students build their own products using the DIY Podcast activity, you may want to use some of these resources.

    Screenshot of the educational materials search tool

    NASA’s Education Materials Finder can point you to educational resources, including lesson plans, educator guides, websites and video clips. You can use the search tool to get results by keyword, grade level, subject and product type. At the bottom of the search tool is a link to an A-Z list of downloadable guides, lesson plans and other publications.

    DIY Podcast Home
    Educational materials search tool 

    International Space Station Anniversary Resource

    On November 2, 2000, the first inhabitants of the International Space Station moved aboard. Explorers have lived on the station continually since then. The current six-member crew is Expedition 25. During the 10 years and 25 crews, the space station has grown into a football field-sized orbiting science laboratory.
    For the 10th anniversary of human presence on the International Space Station, the website has added a new interactive feature, Ten Years on the International Space Station. Many of the DIY Podcast topic modules include audio and video clips from the space station. Students can use this new resource to gather background information about the station that they may want to include in their podcasts. The interactive feature has fun facts and a video that includes some of the astronauts recorded in the DIY Podcast topic modules. 

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