from Come Fly With Me – Exploring Science through aviation and aerospace concepts.

SUBJECT: Science
GRADE: 7,8,9
TIME: Several periods
TYPE OF ACTIVITY: Modeling Student Research
TEACHING STRATEGY: Open Discovery Guided Discovery
CONCEPTS: Colonization of Space Human Needs
SKILLS: Hypothesizing Futurizing Construction

Objective: To utilize understanding of the hostile environment of space in constructing a model space colony.

Materials: ANYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF! Styrofoam or paper plates, hamburger and pie containers; cardboard rolls; straws; Styrofoam or paper cups; plastic soda bottles; flat cardboard, felt pens; string; toothpicks; glue; scissors; Exacto knives; masking tape; bits and pieces of colored paper; paint; styrofoam “peanuts” (they make great space people).

(A) Brainstorming.

  1. Write “The Year 2084” on the chalkboard and circle it.
  2. Ask students to share what kinds of things they think we would have to concern ourselves with if we were living in space in the year 2084. Jobs, food, entertainment, oxygen, gravity, schooling, plants, storage, enclosed environment, etc. are some of the things that will likely come up. As they share, discuss the problems that are involved with each. Search for solutions. Share ideas with each other.
  3. Ask the class whether they really feel we will be able to live for long periods in space in the year 2084. Sooner? Later? What will a space colony look like? What might we have a space colony for? These can be pretty important questions and the students should be encouraged to use all the information they have gathered through their aerospace and other activities to think about them.
  4. Ask the class to make some predictions about the future and discuss the difficulty of making predictions in such swiftly changing times. Talk about how it is more vital than ever to learn how to think rather than learning how to memorize out of date answers.
  5. Explain that groups of students will be constructing their own space colony starting the following day and they should be thinking about what they would like that colony to look like. Show them what you have gathered in the way of materials and encourage them to bring whatever else they think they will need.

(B.) Construction.

  1. Divide the class into groups of 4-5.
  2. Explain that each group will construct a space colony where people live and work.
  3. Explain that, at the end of the construction, the group will be responsible for explaining their construction, what the various parts of, the colony are for, how concerns such as weightlessness, lack of oxygen, decontamination, energy, entertainment, learning, sleeping, loneliness, etc., are being met on the colony. In addition, they should be able to talk about the people living in the colony, who they are and what they do there.
  4. As the students construct their colonies, allow adequate time for research and discussion. They should know that real involvement during the construction will be the best way for them to truly understand some of the ramifications of living in space.
  5. As the students work, the teacher should also actively engage in the process: ask what is happening, what problems are being solved, what things are and encourage the groups to explore and answer questions they may not think of on their own. Reinforce the science concepts involved throughout the construction phase.

(C.) Presentation.

Ask each group to set up their display in an appropriate part of the room. The displays should be “self-explanatory” to some degree (much like a science fair project) but the groups will also be called on to make a verbal presentation. If possible, ask another class in to share the presentations.

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