The year is 2015. The collaboration of scientists from all nations
on planet Earth has created an international space station (ISS)
that has been acclaimed as the most advanced, space-based research
lab. Experimental research aboard the ISS has led to advances in
medicine, recycling, biotechnology, and crop management. Advances
made thus far have helped to realize humanity's goals for the ISS.
These goals are:
(1) To validate the
potential for future space colonization.
(2) To provide socio-economic benefits to civilizations on Earth.
One area of research
that has proven highly successful on the ISS are the plant growth
studies. These studies have brought mankind closer than ever to
the dream of independent, self-sustaining colonies on other planets
and in space. Despite these successes, however, NASA currently faces
dissension among scientists advising a Congressional Finance Subcommittee
in charge of distributing NASA's funds. Funding and workspace is
limited on the ISS, and there is considerable competition for these
resources. Opposing scientists argue that other research areas are
currently more important than plant research. In addition, they
maintain that knowledge gained in previous microgravity plant experiments
has already met their intended goals, and funds should be applied
to new ground-based experiments.
If the Congressional
Finance Subcommittee refuses to give the "go ahead" for
more experimentation with plants in space, the future of space colonization
and habitation could be in jeopardy. A strong case supporting additional
plant research must be clearly and persuasively presented to the
NASA calls upon you
to assume a role as a member of a team of scientists to advise the
subcommittee. The people of Earth need you to recommend the best
course of action to resolve this controversy.
Draft a response to the Congressional Finance Subcommittee and their
science advisors detailing your team's response to the argument
that no additional plant research is necessary on the ISS. Explain
the use of the results of plant research in space, the plant growth
cycle, nutrient delivery processes, environmental necessities, and
the importance of particular plants. You will need to make a poster
presentation complete with data, tables, and pictures detailing
Questions to consider:
1. Why look at plants?
2. Is it worth the cost?
3. What knowledge will be gained by further crop growth research?
4. Is knowing the reaction of specific plant species to microgravity
important? How? Why?
5. What will we learn about the plant life cycle in space that would
6. If the goal of NASA-ISS research is space colonization, why is
increasing the scope of plant research in space a logical step for
controlled-environment experts to consider?
7. What other types of research should be done on the ISS?
8. What type of data management strategies will convince the Congressional
subcommittee that you have a strong case?
9. What is the best way to present your argument to convince the
Congressional subcommittee to allocate more funds for plant research?
1. You will be assigned to a team of 6 students.
2. Choose a role from the role worksheet.
3. Research your role.
4. Create a comprehensive rubric.
5. Discuss and choose a strategy that argues your point of view.
6. Draft a proposal of your recommendations.
7. Create a poster or PowerPoint® presentation.
A copy of your proposal will be submitted to your teacher and to
every other team. Your teacher and the other teams will play the
role of the Congressional Finance Subcommittee. Each team member
must write at least one part of the proposal.
You will put the pictures
you have collected and printed from the Web on a poster or PowerPoint®
presentation, created by your communications expert, for a 2 to
3 minute presentation. Your presentation should convince the subcommittee
that your proposal is the next logical step in NASA and the ISS's
future experiments. Each team member, based upon his or her expertise,
should explain why he or she agreed to this recommendation.
You must also include
a rubric so the Congressional subcommittee can evaluate both your
presentation and proposal. Your rubric should include six comprehensive
questions, one from each student, that will be used to evaluate
the content of your presentation. The team should compose an additional
four questions for the rubric that evaluate the quality of the written
proposal and your presentation techniques, such as eye contact and
The conclusion of your WebQuest will be a class discussion about
the most important factors to consider when experts formulate a
team proposal for presentation to a subcommittee.
Questions to Consider:
What are the most important teamwork issues?
What is your definition of teamwork?
How did you resolve conflicting opinions and viewpoints?
What was the most/least persuasive part of your presentation? Why?
How would you improve upon your argument or presentation?
Teacher Resource Page
Student Resource Page
Space Station Challenge(TM) is a Web-based curriculum supplement
for students in grades 9 to 12. Additional plant science and engineering
activities as well as computer-based simulations are available that
link to Space Station research. Find out more at http://www.cotf.edu/iss/activities/farminspace.asp.
Copyright© 1997-2001 by Wheeling Jesuit University/NASA
Classroom of the Future. All rights reserved.