90 Minutes | 5th – 10th Graders
This activity introduces students to space flight, aeronautics, and the science and engineering that is required when designing space vehicles and space suits. After an introduction into being an astronaut, students are asked to think about what conditions an astronaut would face in space (such as no air pressure or oxygen, extreme temperatures, and micrometeoroids). This lesson focuses on designing a space suit sample that is reflective of the requirements it must meet. Given a list of materials and a budget of “$120”, groups of students will discuss what materials would work best, and why certain materials should be used (for example, aluminum foil as a heat regulator and deflector of radiation). Then the teams will “purchase” their materials and construct their suit sample, using a specified number of layers for consistency. The constructed samples are then tested using the Impact Tester apparatus, by dropping a center punch onto the sample and determining the number of layers through which it penetrates. The teams are scored based on their explanations as to why certain materials were used, the amount of their budget remaining, and the number of layers which were penetrated.
Grades 6-8: 1.1 Materials Properties. 2.1 Engineering Design Process. 2.3 Prototyping. 2.5 Design Features