Here is our suggested approach to conducting the Lunar Outpost Challenge
with your students. This outline is intended to provide
you a framework from which to work. Each class setting is different,
so we welcome modifications and creativity, and we encourage you to
share “best practices” that have worked well for you so
that we can pass your ideas along to fellow teachers. Enjoy!
SET THE STAGE:
As soon as you finish assigning student IDs and implementing the Pre-Challenge
Student Survey (see Welcome letter), familiarize
your students with the purpose of the Lunar Research Station Design Challenge by exposing
them to important background information.
- Conceptual Development
- Research Stations
- How is a research station different from a habitat, settlement,
outpost (or similar places). Check dictionary definitions
and compare and contrast.
- Are there examples of research stations on Earth that exist now
? (e.g. Antarctica). What is their function? Why are they
located where they are?
- What can scientists do at a research station that they
can’t do in their offices or laboratories?
- Analog Studies
- What is an “analog”?
- Have students identify analogs in their immediate environment
(e.g. a classroom aquarium or terrarium is analogous to a fish/animal’s
natural environment, and enables them to live in a place where
they otherwise would not survive)
- How do the identified analogs “fall short” of being
a perfect analog (exactly like a lake/ocean/rainforest) ? Point
out that some deficiencies can be a hindrance (e.g. much less space
to move around) while some can be helpful (e.g. no predators, temperature
- Human requirements
- Have students identify what they need to live and work on the
Moon. The class can discuss what things are really needed
to survive (e.g. oxygen, food, warmth, waste handling, transportation,
communication both local and to Earth) and what isn’t (e.g.
TV, video games, fast food). Working
requires being able to go “outside” and explore areas
away from the living quarters.
- A follow-on discussion may involve what becomes necessary when
traveling the long distance to the moon and spending months away
from home (e.g. communication with family, entertainment – human
- A further discussion may involve trade-offs between size/weight
and transportation to the moon, power requirements and availability,
transporting cargo to the moon and utilizing lunar resources (“in-situ
- Lunar Environment
- How is the lunar environment different from Earth’s?
- Identify what human living and working requirements are not met
by the lunar environment.
- Design Development
- Where in your immediate area would be the best place to build
a lunar analog research station?
- Be able to explain why this site was selected.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of your location?
- Energy and Life Support
- How will your design support energy requirements for heating/cooling,
cooking, working, lighting, communication etc.
- How will your design provide life support, e.g. oxygen, warmth,
- What provisions will you make for recycling waste.
- Human factors
- How will your design support recreation, privacy, social areas,
quiet areas, communication with home, etc.?
- How will you communicate with personnel in the field?
- How will you provide for communications to Earth?
- Exploration and EVA Activities
- How will your design support entry/exit from the living quarters
to the outside, transportation on the surface, spacesuits,
exploration equipment, etc.
- Research station architecture and materials
- Prepare a floor plan of your research station and any outside
support structures (e.g. garage, storage areas)
- Will your research station be above or below ground ?
- What materials will you use to build the station ? Why?
- How will you protect the explorers from radiation, exposure to
- How will you protect equipment from dust, exposure to heat/cold,
- How will you protect the Moon from contamination from humans?
- How will you deal with carbon dioxide, grey water, toxic waste,
Browse the list of teacher articles
Browse the list of considerations to stimulate discussion and design
Browse digital pictures and field journals from the Mars Desert Research
Read about the purpose of the MDRS
Read journals about what types of work go on in an analog station
Explore the following links with your students:
Get to know the MDRS crew members
What is a Mars analog?
More about Mars analogs
Helpful background research
Learn more about Spaceward Bound and investigate the resources offered
by that program http://quest.nasa.gov/projects/spacewardbound/
What does it take for a world to be habitable to humans?
students in grades 5-8 to explore this question through interactive
investigations in astronomy, geology, atmospheric science, and biology.
and use the online Quest program "What's the Difference?" to
compare and contrast the conditions on Moon with those of Earth. Solar
System Explorer is a scaled-down version of "What's the
which can be used to compare the Moon and Earth. Download and expand
into new folder all of the files received:
PC Version (here)
Mac Version (here)
download the full authoring tool to fill in your own content,
go to: http://quest.nasa.gov/vft/index.html#wtd
Browse Teacher information in the document entitled Exploring the
158 pp. in .pdf format). This teachers' guide has been designed
for use in upper elementary through high school. Provided in the
guide is background information about the moon. The activities are
divided into three units: Pre-Apollo, Learning from Apollo and the
APPROACH - DIVIDE AND CONQUER
Divide your class into teams to cover each area (energy and life
support, human factors, etc.). The idea is for each team to
design solutions within their concept area that complement the other
teams’ solutions and concept areas. For example, the
team focusing on Exploration and EVA activities has to work with
the Research station architecture and materials group to design the
entry/exit to the living quarters. Those groups have to also
work with the Contamination group to make sure dust from the outside
isn’t brought inside during entry.
NOTE: If you are working with a small class or a single student,
then you may choose to focus on only ONE of the areas concepts.
KICKOFF EVENT OCTOBER 23: This web chat will kick-start the
Challenge and will complement the pre-Challenge discussions you have
had with your students. Students will “meet the experts” and
will have the opportunity to ask them questions.
PRELIMINARY DESIGN AND PEER FEEDBACK: Have your students work
in their teams and brainstorm preliminary design ideas. Once
each team completes a design, bring the class together for team mini-presentations. Each
team will describe or “present” their ideas to the rest
of the class and acquire peer feedback. This is the perfect time
for teams to identify “conflicts” between their designs. Remind
your students that even though their team is specializing in a particular
concept, they must continue to look at the whole picture and envision
each team’s ideas working together in one environment. Upon
discussing ideas with and soliciting feedback from the class, teams
should fine-tune their initial design into a preliminary design
to be submitted for expert review.
PRELIMINARY DESIGN AND SCIENTIST FEEDBACK: Preliminary designs
must be submitted in late October (deadline to be announced). These
designs will be posted on the web, and NASA scientists will review
them and reply with feedback online regarding the design’s
strengths and weaknesses. This feedback will be provided during
the first weeks of November.
FINAL DESIGN SUBMISSION: Teams will refine their preliminary
designs into a final design based on the scientists’ feedback
they received. Final designs must be submitted on or before
November 30 and will be posted on the web. Final designs should
be submitted as follows:
- Documentation of the full- or scale-model built by the team -
preferably digital photos
- Floor plan – drawn by hand or with a computer
- A written description of the Research Station, justification
for design decisions, analysis of strengths and weaknesses
NOTE: Some pictures may be posted on the web or used in
a summary report to highlight student ideas and work. Therefore,
if student faces are clearly visible in the
pictures you send, then
NASA will require that you complete a release form for those students. This
only applies to identifiable “face shots”; pictures
containing profiles, backs of student heads, or pictures only showing
the project and not the student(s) will not require a release form.
release form is available in .pdf format.
CLASS-WIDE PRESENTATION: Gather your teams together to conduct
an all-inclusive presentation to their school or grade level. This
activity will allow your students to see the “big picture” as
they demonstrate to their peers how their designs work and how they
also complement and support one another. Although NASA will
not be directly participating in this activity, we feel it is a
key component that demonstrates how scientists, researchers, and
engineers ultimately work together to conduct exploration missions.
GRAND FINALE WEBCAST: A final webcast will be hosted in early
December (date and time to be announced), in which final designs
will be posted and discussed by NASA personnel. This interactive,
culminating event will allow your students to learn about the ideas
submitted by other classrooms around the world as well as enjoy
the spotlight as their design is presented.
GIVE US FEEDBACK!
After the final web cast, have your students
return to the computer to complete the Post-Challenge Student Survey/Reaction
Questionnaire. You, the teacher, will also need to complete the online
Teacher Reaction Questionnaire. These feedback forms allow
us to learn which aspects of the Challenge students enjoy most as
well as identify ways to make future Challenges more useful to your
classroom curriculum and environment.
Thank you for participating in the Lunar Research Station Design
Challenge. We hope this information helps guide you through
the Challenge process; however, if you have an approach that works
better for you, then please share. We welcome “best practices” to
pass along to other participants!
Ames Quest Challenge Team