A. Engage (20 minutes)
1. Show video clip to introduce students to NASA's plans to send a mission to Mars. The link is: Episode 1: No Small Steps
2. Discuss with students that NASA has plans to send a mission to Mars around 2016. Ask kids why would landing a spacecraft gently be important for getting astronauts to and from Mars?
3. Show the kids the spring you made out of the index card. This will be a model for their springs.
4. You may show the Newton's Laws of Motion Powerpoint if students need background information on Newton's laws of motion.
B. Explore (Total 45 minutes)
Distribute the Touchdown Challenge handout to the students. Go over directions with the students.
Build, Test, Evaluate, and Redesign (45 minutes)
1. Assign roles to each student in a group of four. The following roles and responsibilities are:
-Principal Investigator-This is the spokesperson for the group and is allowed to ask the teacher questions when the group has a question
-Materials Manager-This person is responsible for getting all materials for the project and is the only person allowed out of their seat. This person is responsible for returning any equipment or supplies.
-Task Manager-This person keeps the group on task
-Checker-This person makes sure everyone is writing down everything correctly and that everyone is following appropriate lab safety.
2. Provide students with the Touchdown Challenge: A Physical Science Mission to Mars handout and rubric. Go over directions and rubric.
3. You may opt to break up the lesson into parts. You may provide 15 minutes for students to sketch proposed model of spacecraft, build, and answer questions on the front side of the handout. You may choose to initial each group's proposed model prior to building. After students have had the opportunity to build, then provide ten minutes of testing. The last 20 minutes of exploration, students can make adjustments to their spacecraft, draw their final sketch, and answer the final questions.
Explain (10 minutes)
1. Discuss orally with class their spaceship designs and compare how they were different.
2. Ask, What forces affected your spacecraft as it fell?
3. Ask, After testing, what changes did you make to your spacecraft?
4. Ask, How does testing improve your design?
5. Ask, What did you learn from watching other spacecrafts land?
Elaboration (10 minutes)
1. Have the students drop their spacecraft from 3 feet. Eliminate any spacecrafts whose astronauts fall out. Continue raising the height dropped until you have a winner of whose spacecraft will drop from the highest height. You can increase the challenge by adding in a third astronaut.
2. Test springs of different sizes. Have kids determine if the number of folds in the index card has an effect on the shock absorption with the spacecraft. Have students fold the index cards multiple times to test if this has an effect on the landing.
End of Lesson Assessment
1. Have students write a 5-6 sentence paragraph describing how their spacecraft demonstrated Newton's Laws of Motion. This can serve as their exit ticket.
2. Have students list 3 things they did well in regards to their roles in the group (roles as principal investigator, materials manager, task manager, and checker). They should also tell one way they can improve upon as a group.