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This project engages students in the science and engineering processes used by NASA Astrobiologists as they explore our Solar System and try to answer the compelling question, "Are we Alone?" Students will identify science mission goals and select... (View More) an astrobiologically significant target of interest: Mars, Europa, Enceladus or Titan. Students will then design their mission to this target in search of their chosen biosignature(s). Students will encounter the same considerations and challenges facing NASA scientists and engineers as they search for life in our Solar System. Students will need to balance the return of their science data with engineering limitations such as power, mass and budget. Risk factors play a role and will add to the excitement in this interactive science and engineering activity. Astrobiobound! will help students see how science and systems engineering are integrated to achieve a focused scientific goal. Includes an alignment document for NGSS and Common Core State Standards. (View Less)
Learners model how impacts throughout the Moon's history have broken rocks down into a mixture of dust, rocks, and boulders that covers the lunar surface. They consider how the dust will continue to hold a record of human exploration — in the form... (View More) of astronaut bootprints — for countless years in the future. Children may examine a type of Earth soil ("lunar soil simulant") that is similar to what is found on the Moon's surface and that would have been shaped by the processes explored here. The children create their own records of exploration by making rubbings of their shoes. This activity is part of Explore! Marvel Moon. (View Less)
This is an activity about how scientists use craters to determine the ages of lunar surface. Learners work in pairs: one child keeps time while the other creates a painting for the other to interpret. Cotton balls coated in different colors of paint... (View More) are thrown at paper to simulate asteroids striking the lunar surface over time. The children take turns in the time-keeping/painting roles to decipher a mystery: In what order did the "impacts" occur? Which painting has more "impacts"? They learn that scientists can estimate the age of a lunar surface by counting its craters. This activity is part of Explore! Marvel Moon. (View Less)
Learners model how the Moon's volcanic period reshaped its earlier features. The children consider that the broad, shallow impact basins contained cracks through which magma seeped up. A plate in which slits have been cut is used to represent an... (View More) impact basin and a dish of red-colored water is used to represent the pockets of magma within the Moon’s upper layers. When the model impact basin is pressed into the "magma," "lava" fills in the low areas through the same process that produced the dark patches, or maria, on the Moon. Children may examine a type of Earth rock (named basalt) that is also found on the Moon and that would have been shaped by the processes explored here. This station investigates the Moon's "teen years," when it was one to three billion years old. This activity is part of Explore! Marvel Moon. (View Less)
This is a lesson about the shape of objects in space. Learners will observe the surface of rotating potatoes to help them understand how astronomers use variations in reflective brightness to determine the shape of asteroids.