Any student who has kept and cared for an animal of any kind can relate
to this project. Those who have not, can learn a great deal! We hope
the Great Habitat Debate will be a fun way to talk about animal care
while learning about the special environment of space flight.
- Teachers and Students,
- Have you ever kept mice, rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters
or rabbits? Could you care for them in space?
As students brainstorm the needs and requirements for caring for
animals in space, they will begin to understand microgravity and
its effects on animals and humans. Additionally, students will collaborate
with classrooms around the world as they become life scientists
and engineers designing a space-worthy animal habitat for our furry
This project can be as easy or complex as your grade level dictates.
Lower grades may choose to submit a simple drawing while upper grades
may prepare detailed designs with justification for each element
in design. Please use as much, or as little of the guidace from
our "Considerations" section
as you think will be appropriate to your grade level. Roughly sketched
out, this is the plan:
- December 12: Announcement
- Activity details announced in one of our updates. Educators
register their interest by joining the debate-nrn list online
or by emailing Linda Conrad
Educators prepare classes by sharing the Great Animal Habitat
- January 5 - 30: Part 1
- Design activities begin. Students brainstorm in their classrooms,
discuss ideas online with other classes, and decide how they would
best solve any problems. Submissions
can be made anytime during January. They may be viewed online.
- February 2: Expert Feedback
- All designs due (with text explanations of all features if appropriate).
Designs will be posted, and top designs will receive expert feedback
Some considerations to begin with: The animal habitats
pictured at left were designed for housing animals on Earth. The
challenge to your classroom is to design a habitat that will allow
for the care and safety of animals for a 16-day trip in space. There
are many things to take into account, here are just a few: Many
animals like to clump together when they sleep - how will they do
that if they are floating all over?
How can we give the animals fresh food and water?
How will the animals go to the bathroom in space, without making
a big mess?