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How can we evaluate systems to provide breathable air in a space station?

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How can we evaluate systems to provide breathable air in a space station?

Earth & Space Science Is Lesson Plan Life Science High School Grades 9-12

Sensemaking Checklist

What is Sensemaking?

Sensemaking is actively trying to figure out how the world works (science) or how to design solutions to problems (engineering). Students do science and engineering through the science and engineering practices. Engaging in these practices necessitates that students be part of a learning community to be able to share ideas, evaluate competing ideas, give and receive critique, and reach consensus. Whether this community of learners is made up of classmates or family members, students and adults build and refine science and engineering knowledge together.

Lesson Snapshot

High school students, as scientists and engineers, use science and engineering ideas about chemical reactions, matter cycling, and constraints to answer the following question, “How can we evaluate systems to provide breathable air in a space station?” Students are introduced to commercial space stations and consider the problems that scientists and engineers will have to design solutions for. Students develop an initial model to explain their ideas about the astronauts’ needs on space station and potential solutions for meeting those needs. After discussing potential solutions identified in the models, students determine that they will need to take into account criteria and constraints to evaluate solutions. Next, students consider which substances the astronauts will need, the waste products they will produce, and how they can “make” oxygen from other substances using the PhET Build a Molecule simulation. Finally, students review information about three solutions currently being used in or tested for other spacecraft. Groups decide how well each solution meets the criteria and constraints they established on a scale from 1–4. Once groups have chosen a solution, they write a summary proposal for the matter cycling system used in a space station.

This lesson plan was created in collaboration with Northrop Grumman and supported by the Northrop Grumman Foundation.

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Student Materials

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Teacher Materials

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