Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber
A collage of four pictures

Featured Lesson(s)

Lesson 2: Let's Design
Lesson 3: Turning Designs Into Reality

View entire Packing Up for the Moon Educator Guide

 


Essential Question

As humans explore space, they will need to grow their own food. Can you design a system that could be used by astronauts on the moon to grow plants?


Description

Engineering design is a creative planning process that leads to useful products and systems. In the future, as space missions become longer, plant growth will be vital to space exploration. This activity combines engineering design with plant growth whereby middle school students learn about and apply the design process to develop a lunar plant growth chamber. The criteria and constraints for this system are based on the unique conditions of the lunar environment and the current transportation technologies available. The current focus of NASA is reviewed, as well as new systems being developed for future missions. The science of the lunar environment and basic plant needs are presented.


Additional Resources

  Classroom Resources:

 

  • Videos for Students:
    • STS-118: Watch the launch of STS-118 as it takes millions of basil seeds up to space. Hear the crew talk about plant growth in space.  
    • Introducing the Challenge: See the challenge introduced to a group of eager students. Watch as they work through the first four steps of the engineering design process.  
    • Overview of Activity: Watch as the students complete the engineering design challenge by working through the final four steps of the engineering design process. Check out their final lunar plant growth chambers.  
       



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  Connection to NASA:



  Extension Activities:



Professional Development

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Lesson Information


Subject(s) Covered:

 • Science • Technology



Topic(s) Covered:

 • Science: Requirements for plant growth • Technology: Engineering design, modeling



Activity Type:

 Inquiry



Grade Level:

 4-8



Instructional Objective:

 Students apply the engineering design process to build a plant growth chamber.



Time to Complete the Activity:

 Two to three 45 minute classes



  Materials Needed:

  • Scrap materials (plates, cups, straws, paper, etc.)
  • Cinnamon Basil Seed Packets (or other seeds)



   National Content Standards:

 

  • 21st Century Outcome: Learning and Innovation Skills
  • 21st Century Element: Communication and Collaboration
  • 21st Century Skill: Collaborate with Others
  • 21st Century Outcome: Learning and Innovation Skills
  • 21st Century Element: Creativity and Innovation
  • 21st Century Skills:
    • Implement Innovations
    • Think Creatively
  • 21st Century Outcome: Learning and Innovation Skills
  • 21st Century Element: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • 21st Century Skills:
    • Make Judgments and Decisions
    • Reason Effectively
    • Solve Problems
  • Science Standard: Science and Technology
    • Abilities of technological design
  • Science Standard: Life Science
    • Diversity and adaptations of organisms
    • Populations and ecosystem
    • Structure and function in living systems
  • Science Standard: Science and Technology
    • Understanding about science and technology
  • Technology Standard: Design
    • Students will develop an understanding of engineering design
    • Students will develop an understanding of the attributes of design
    • Students will develop an understanding of the role of troubleshooting, research and development, invention and innovation, and experimentation in problem solving