The Great Animal Habitat Debate
A Collaborative Activity
The goal of this activity is for students to have a classroom experience that parallels the process used by US and International life scientists and engineers as they discuss, plan, and conduct joint science on the Neurolab Mission. Through this collaborative activity we hope to:
Increase understanding of the benefit of using animals in research.
Increase understanding of the many factors involved in the proper
care and use of animals in space.
Arouse enthusiasm, excitement, and interest in biomedical research
Facilitate cooperative learning in the classroom.
Involve students in critical thinking/problem solving scenarios.
What system is best for the care and use of animals in space?
What are the primary types of research conducted with animals in space?
What stressors effect animals in space?
Factors involved in designing Space Flight hardware
Benefits of animal research
The steps in the scientific method
Design Phase: Month of January
Suggestions for the Initial Phase of the Project
Directions to Students
Make a chart with three columns. Label the first column "Condition" and use one or two words to name the growing condition needed. Label the second column "Source." In this column name the source of that condition. For example, if light is named in the first column, you might put "sun" or "flourescent lights" as a source. Label the third column "How Helpful." In this column, jot down a few words telling how or why the condition helps the animal remain healthy.
You will have 10 - 15 minutes to complete as much as you can on your own. Next, you will share your thoughts with a small group.
Allow the groups about five to eight minutes to share answers. Then, using a large sheet of butcher paper or poster board entitled "Earth-Normal Animal Care Requirements," develop a class poster that will be posted throughout the remainder of the design activities.
Possible answers: steady supply of food and water, proper disposal
of waste, quiet, safe place to sleep
Discuss with students the term " microgravity." What are some of the differences they know microgravity makes for the astronauts' daily life in space? Many have seen TV coverage of shuttle flights or TV programming that demonstrates the weightlessness of microgravity. Help them apply those conditions to their own daily routine and what differences those would make in common activities such as brushing their hair, drinking water, etc.
Have students review the Earth Normal Conditions list. Through small group work (use the same grouping that was assigned for Part I) have students decide which requirements are affected by microgravity. Have the groups discuss how and why they would be affected. Have each group select two of these conditions for explanation to the class. Each group should choose a spokesperson(s) for this oral reporting. As each group presents, discuss as needed.
What other types of animals might go into space some day? On a long-duration mission to Mars, what sort of animals should we take?