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Touchdown Challenge: A Physical Science Mission to Mars

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Laura Crowe
System: Auburn City
School: Auburn City Board Of Education
The event this resource created for:NASA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34315

Title:

Touchdown Challenge: A Physical Science Mission to Mars

Overview/Annotation:

This is a hands-on, cooperative learning activity where students are using items purchased from a grocery store to design a device and construct a shock-absorbing system out of paper, straws, and miniature marshmallows that will protect two astronauts when landing on Mars. Students are able to develop engineering skills to develop a spacecraft to land on Mars, a mission NASA is currently working on. Students propose a model of a spacecraft to land astronauts safely on the moon, test it, and then revise.

This lesson was created as part of the 2016 NASA STEM Standards of Practice Project, a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 8
Physical Science
8 ) Use Newton's first law to demonstrate and explain that an object is either at rest or moves at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force (e.g., model car on a table remaining at rest until pushed).

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect
Disciplinary Core Idea: Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Demonstrate, using Newton's First Law, that an object is either at rest or moves at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force.
  • Explain Newton's First Law.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Sir Isaac Newton
  • Newton's First Law of Motion
  • Constant velocity
  • Balanced force
  • Unbalanced force
  • External force
  • Rest
  • Motion
  • Inertia
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • An object at rest remains at rest unless acted on by an external force.
  • An object in motion remains in motion unless acted upon by an external force.
  • Inertia is the tendency of an object to resist a change in motion.
  • An object subjected to balanced forces does not change its motion.
  • An object subjected to unbalanced forces changes its motion over time.
  • Constant velocity indicates that an object is moving in a straight line at a constant speed.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Demonstrate Newton's first law.
  • Articulate a statement that relates a given phenomenon to a scientific idea, including Newton's first law and the motion of an object.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • Newton's First Law states that an object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by an external force.
  • Newton's First Law states that an object at in motion remains in motion at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Experimenting with Forces and Motion

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement:
P8.14a: An object's motion can be described by its speed and the direction in which it is moving. An object's position can be measured and graphed as a function of time. An object's speed can be measured and graphed as a function of time.

NAEP Statement:
P8.16a: Forces have magnitude and direction.

NAEP Statement:
P8.16b: Forces can be added.

NAEP Statement:
P8.16c: The net force on an object is the sum of all the forces acting on the object.

NAEP Statement:
P8.16d: A nonzero net force on an object changes the object's motion; that is, the object's speed and/or direction of motion changes.

NAEP Statement:
P8.16e: A net force of zero on an object does not change the object's motion; that is, the object remains at rest or continues to move at a constant speed in a straight line.


Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 8
Physical Science
10 ) Use Newton's third law to design a model to demonstrate and explain the resulting motion of two colliding objects (e.g., two cars bumping into each other, a hammer hitting a nail).*

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Developing and Using Models
Crosscutting Concepts: Systems and System Models
Disciplinary Core Idea: Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Design a model of two colliding objects.
  • Demonstrate Newton's Third Law, which states that for any pair of interacting objects, the force exerted by the first object on the second object is equal in strength to the force that the second object exerts on the first, but in the opposite direction.
  • Use Newton's Third Law to explain the resulting motion of two colliding objects.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Sir Isaac Newton
  • Newton's Third Law of
  • Motion
  • Force
  • Model
  • Mass
  • Speed
  • Velocity
  • Action
  • Reaction
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • Whenever two objects interact with each other, they exert forces upon each other.
  • These forces are called action and reaction forces; forces always come in pairs.
  • For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
  • The size of the force on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object.
  • The direction of the force on the first object is opposite to the direction of the force on the second object.
  • The momentum of an object increases if either the mass or the speed of the object increases or if both increases.
  • The momentum of an object decreases if either the mass or the speed of the object decreases or if both decrease.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Develop a model that demonstrates Newton's third law and identify the relevant components.
  • Describe the relationships between components of the model.
  • Use observations from the model to provide causal accounts for events and make predictions for events by constructing explanations.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • Newton's Third Law states that for any pair of interacting objects, the force exerted by the first object on the second object is equal in strength to the force that the second object exerts on the first, but in the opposite direction.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Experimenting with Forces and Motion

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement:
P8.16a: Forces have magnitude and direction.

NAEP Statement:
P8.16b: Forces can be added.

NAEP Statement:
P8.16c: The net force on an object is the sum of all the forces acting on the object.

NAEP Statement:
P8.16d: A nonzero net force on an object changes the object's motion; that is, the object's speed and/or direction of motion changes.

NAEP Statement:
P8.16e: A net force of zero on an object does not change the object's motion; that is, the object remains at rest or continues to move at a constant speed in a straight line.


Local/National Standards:

 

Primary Learning Objective(s):

The students can create a model of an apparatus that will safely land two astronauts when landing on Mars. 

Students can apply examples of Newton's three laws of motion when a spacecraft uses a shock-absorbing system during landing. 

Students will be able to re-design and make improvements on their shock-absorbing for astronauts when landing on Mars based upon testing results.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 
 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

61 to 90 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

For each group of 4 students you will need:

1 piece of stiff paper or cardboard (approximately 4 inches by 5 inches (10 cm by 13 cm)

1 small paper or plastic cup

3 index cards (3 inches by 5 inches (8cm by 13 cm)

2 regular size marshmallows

10 miniature marshmallows

3 rubber bands

8 plastic straws

scissors

tape

Touchdown Challenge: A Physical Science Mission to Mars handout

Touchdown Challenge: A Physical Science Mission to Mars Rubric

Touchdown Challenge original NASA handout (for teacher reference)

Technology Resources Needed:

A computer with internet access.

A projection device to show video link from computer.

Background/Preparation:

Background

1. Newton's first law of motion-Objects in motion stay in motion, objects at rest stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force

2. Newton's second law-Force = mass  x acceleration; the gravitational constant for gravity is 9.8 m/s2

3. Newton's third law-For every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction

4. Inertia- also Newton's first law; it is the resistance to change in motion

5. Mass is measured in kg; force is measured in Newtons; acceleration is measured in m/s2

Preparation

Fold an index card by folding it back and forth several times to where it has several folds in it.

 

  Procedures/Activities: 

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?

3Show 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.

 

 

 



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  Assessment  

Assessment Strategies

The use of a rubric is used to grade.

Oral discussion and questioning during the "Explain" portion of the activity can be used as assessment.

Construction and redesign of the spacecraft.

Acceleration:

Students can identify and explain the law of conservation of energy and how it applies to this situation.  They can describe sources of potential and kinetic energy in the testing of their designs.

Intervention:

 

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.