To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before

Author: Alex Johnson-Jimenez
Lesson Plan:

Students will identify various space vehicles, create models of a space vehicle, and then design their own space vehicle to take them to Mars.

Materials Needed:
Coloring materials: crayons, markers, paint, sponges, etc.
Aluminum foil
Sheets of poster board
Copy paper
Straws - lots of them
Tissue and paper towel roles
Pictures of various space craft: Viking Lander, Hubble Space Telescope, Atlantis Space Shuttle, Mir
Space Station, Voyager Probe, Mars Global Surveyor Probe, and other various satellites.

Estimated Time: 60 min.

Copy all the pictures onto a piece of paper in black and white and hand them out to each student. While the students are acquainting themselves with the pictures, write on the board:

1.Compare and contrast these _____________. You will ask the students what the pictures are of. You will then write in space crafts, space ships, space vehicles, or something similar.
A. How are they similar?
B. How are they different?
C. Which ones can carry people?
D. Which ones move through out the solar system?
E. Which ones remain stationary around the Earth?

2.Ask the students to work independently on this task. Total time: 5 min.

1.Once the timer sounds, ask students to identify the space craft. (They will simply read the name under the picture.) Ask, students what they crafts are used for. Many will be guesses but some will be correct.

2.Acknowledge their answers and expand on some of their thoughts. Think as they do. Total Time: 2 min.

3.State, "I have asked you to compare and contrast these space crafts, now let's classify them."

4.On the board, draw four circles and say, "the crafts that carry people from one place to another are called Ships, like the Mayflower. The crafts that remain in place around the Earth are called Stations. The crafts that search the solar system we will call Probes. Who knows what probing means? (give the analogy of a doctor poking you here and there in search of what might be making you sick or hurt-she probes you to discover things.) The crafts that circle the Earth are called Satellites.

5.Write the names in italics in a separate circle.

6.Have students take turns naming what craft goes under what classification. Be ready for students who will argue that some belong under more than one heading. Total time: 6 min.

7.Ask, "which of these categories do you think we are most interested in right now?" Students will more than likely respond with the Probes and the Ships. Some will argue the Stations or Satellites. Don't discount their arguments, but simply state that while we need them all, we are primarily concerned with the investigation of Mars and therefore need to focus on Probes. Explain to students that many of the pictures that they have seen on the internet, in their books, handouts, and overheads were taken by Probes.

8."Before we can colonize Mars, we need more information about the planet. So, each of you is going to design and build your own space probe. Before that though, look up at the overhead for some information on how probes work." Explain the need to have a dish, radio pick up and transmission rods, power source, and antennas. Explain the function of each part if possible. Leave the information or diagram on the overhead for them to refer back to. Total time: 8 min.

9.Give the students the 20 minutes to work on this activity. Total time: 20 min.

10.Inform them that their NASA research projects are due at the end of class and that when the timer sounds, they will have the remainder of the period to work on finalizing their NASA project to turn in. Explain that if they get done early with their NASA project that they can work on their probe some more.

Walk throughout the classroom observing and answering questions. Assess the accuracy of their work and following of directions, ability to think critically, independent work, creativity.

Add three more words to their private word list and defining them in their own words.