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Literary Science Sparks: Grade 8 (Solar System/Space)

Image representing Literary Science Sparks at the Jacksonville Public Library

 

Standards

LAFS.8.RL.1.AP.2a: Determine the theme or central idea of a text

LAFS.8.RI.3.AP.8b: Evaluate the claim or argument to determine if it is supported by evidence

SC.8.E.5.In.7: Compare conditions on other planets in the Solar System to those on Earth, such as gravity, temperature, and atmosphere.

SC.8.E.5.Pa.4: Recognize a technology tool created for space exploration and adapted for personal use, such as computers, telescopes, or satellites.

 

Literary Sparks

  1. Christopher and his friends live on a newly discovered planetoid. Under what circumstances would you consider living on a different planet? What differences do you think there would be between Earth, and a newly established planetoid?
  2. Which parts of MINRS do you think could happen in real life? What lessons can we learn about our Earth and resources from this book?
  3. What is solar interference? How does it cause the communication blackout on Perses? Could it affect our daily life on Earth now? How?

Exploration

Surviving on the Moon

Learning Outcomes Statement:

The Surviving on the Moon activity encourages students to think about the necessities for life on the Moon by ranking critical survival items in order of importance, then comparing them to NASA’s rankings/reasonings. This will develop the core academic skills of creativity and innovation by identifying multiple solutions to problems and imagining new ideas.

Materials Needed:

Library Resources/Materials to Share:

539.736 LATTA Smash! by Sara Latta

Y FIC SYLVESTER, K. Minrs by Kevin Sylvester

Y 507.8 GARDNER Planet Earth science fair projects using the moon, stars, beach balls, frisbees, and other far-out stuff by Robert Gardner

509.252 IGNOTOFSKY Women in science: 50 fearless pioneers who changed the world by Rachel Ignotofsky

Standards Addressed:

LAFS.8.RL.1.AP.2a: Determine the theme or central idea of a text

LAFS.8.RI.3.AP.8b: Evaluate the claim or argument to determine if it is supported by evidence

SC.8.E.5.In.7: Compare conditions on other planets in the Solar System to those on Earth, such as gravity, temperature, and atmosphere.

SC.8.E.5.Pa.4: Recognize a technology tool created for space exploration and adapted for personal use, such as computers, telescopes, or satellites.

Notes for Introduction:

Our class has been reading a book about people colonizing a new planet. Today we will be completing an activity using your knowledge of the Earth’s Moon and its atmosphere. You will be working in groups to rank survival items in order of importance to complete your mission. If you need more information to make a decision, please use the database Science in Context to look up facts about the Moon. Groups will then present their ranking order and reasons for their decisions to the rest of the class. As a class, we will compare the rankings to the official NASA answers, and see who among us survived!

Activities Description:

Group members should be instructed to rank the objects individually (–10 min) and then in groups (15 min.). In the group part of the exercise, all groups should be instructed to employ the method of group consensus, which requires each group member to agree upon the rankings for each of the 15 survival items. Instructor should ensure that students interact only within groups and no cross-talking occurs between groups.

Allow group members to use Science in Context database to answer questions and verify facts about the Moon.

Together, share the official NASA rankings and have the groups calculate their scores. Which groups did the best? Which groups would not have survived?

Questions for Feedback and Reflection:

  1. How/why  would your rankings of items change if the group was stranded on Mars? Saturn?
  1. As a group, you had to come to a consensus about each item. What was the hardest thing about this? Do you think being in a life or death situation would make it easier or harder to agree with your group members?
  1. What information were you able to find on the database? How did that help inform your decisions?

Scenario:

You are a member of a space crew originally scheduled to rendezvous with a mother ship on the lighted surface of the moon. However, due to mechanical difficulties, your ship was forced to land at a spot some 200 miles from the rendezvous point. During reentry and landing, much of the equipment aboard was damaged and, since survival depends on reaching the mother ship, the most critical items available must be chosen for the 200-mile trip. Below are listed the 15 items left intact and undamaged after landing. Your task is to rank order them in terms of their importance for your crew in allowing them to reach the rendezvous point. Place the number 1 by the most important item, the number 2 by the second most important, and so on through number 15 for the least important.

YOUR RANKING

ITEM

YOUR REASON

NASA RANKING

DIFFERENCE

 

Box of matches

     
 

Food concentrate

     
 

50 feet of nylon rope

     
 

Parachute silk

     
 

Portable heating unit

     
 

Two .45 caliber pistols

     
 

One case of dehydrated milk

     
 

Two 100 lb. tanks of oxygen

     
 

Stellar map

     
 

Self-inflating life raft

     
 

Magnetic compass

     
 

20 liters of water

     
 

Signal flares

     
 

First aid kit, including injection needle

     
 

Solar-powered FM receiver-transmitter

     

Answers:

ITEM

RANKING

NASA’s REASONING

Box of matches

15

there’s no oxygen on the moon to sustain combustion

Food concentrate

4

Efficient means of supplying energy requirements

50 feet of nylon rope

6

Useful in scaling cliffs and tying injured together

Parachute silk

8

Protection from the sun’s rays

Portable heating unit

13

Not needed unless on the dark side

Two .45 caliber pistols

11

Possible means of self-propulsion

One case of dehydrated milk

12

Bulkier duplication of food concentrate

Two 100 lb. tanks of oxygen

1

Most pressing survival need (weight is not a factor since gravity is one-sixth of the Earth’s — each tank would weigh only about 17 lbs. on the moon)

Stellar map

3

Primary means of navigation – star patterns appear essentially identical on the moon as on Earth

Self-inflating life raft

9

CO2 bottle in military raft may be used for propulsion

Magnetic compass

14

The magnetic field on the moon is not polarized, so it’s worthless for navigation

20 liters of water

2

Needed for replacement of tremendous liquid loss on the light side

Signal flares

10

Use as distress signal when the mother ship is sighted

First aid kit, including injection needle

7

Needles connected to vials of vitamins, medicines, etc. will fit special aperture in NASA space suit

Solar-powered FM receiver-transmitter

5

For communication with mother ship (but FM requires line-of-sight transmission and can only be used over short ranges)

Scoring:

For each item, mark the number of points that your score differs from the NASA ranking, then add up all the points. Disregard plus or minus differences. The lower the total, the better your score.

0 – 25     excellent

26 – 32   good

33 – 45   average

46 – 55   fair

56 – 70   poor — suggests use of Earth-bound logic

71 – 112  very poor – you’re one of the casualties of the space program!

… published in the July 1999 issue of the NightTimes

https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/nasa-exercise

 

Jacksonville Public Library