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Webinar on the Space Brain Hack


Uploaded on December 14, 2022


Webinar on the Space Brain Hack

2022-11-16 - Webinar for educators about the Canadian Space Agency’s Space Brain Hack, an annual learning initiative where youth in Grades 6 to 12 are invited to imagine solutions to real space issues. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

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Hi everyone, my name is Parshati Patel, I’m the Program Designer and Education Advisor in the Youth STEM Initiatives Team at the Canadian Space Agency.

Thank you for joining us today. We’re really excited to share with you more about the Space Brain Hack.

But before I do so, I would just like to put in a quick reminder that this session is being recorded, and it will be available on the Canadian Space Agency website by mid-December, along with the Frequently Asked Questions, and we would just want to ask you that, if you have any questions, there is an option for Q&A, at the bottom, so please use that option to put in your questions.

I have a short slide presentation that I’ll go through and then we can get to your questions. So please feel free to add your questions in there.

And I’m currently based in London, Ontario, the home, the Traditional Lands of Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabek, Lūnaapéewak, and to Attawandaron’s Peoples.

I would appreciate if anyone can just give me a heads up they are able to see? Perfect, thank you.

So thank you for being here today with us. I will be sharing a bit about the Space Brain Hack initiative, which we just launched in October. We know that space is a unique -- has a unique ability to inspire young people, cross genders, cultures and communities. And so we know our youth are scientists, explorers and problem-solvers for tomorrow, and we would want to get them involved in our Space Program and help shape it, as they are our future.

And so this particular initiative is an annual initiative that will be running from October to February every school year. It is presented with open-ended questions and real challenges related to the Lunar Gateway, and key space exploration themes. And we’re hoping that this will get them thinking about creative solutions, innovations and inventions for the future.

Now this particular challenge is geared towards Grades 6 to 12 and we have separated them into two age groups, grade groups, throughout 6-8 as well as 9-12, or secondary 5 in Quebec.

We know that space in particular is well known for, you know, working collaboratively and in teams from across the world so, in this activity as well, we would love for students to be working in teams and submit their ideas as a team. But we will also accept individual entries.

Now, we want to show youth that they can play a role in these exciting new, upcoming missions and also, they could do so by studying science, engineering, technology and mathematics. And so in order to aid that, what we are going to be doing as part of each challenge is that, within these challenges we’re building role models for them so we showcase diverse professionals who are already working in these fields and what kinds of jobs you could have. And depending on, you know, which topic it will be.

So like I mentioned, it’s an annual initiative and so each year the topic will be different, and I’ll get to the topic in a second.

What we’re providing, in terms of resources, and the way we have developed this particular initiative is we have kept it to have a flexible formats, so this allows for you as an educator, to take the activity and based on the time that’s available with your students, you can adapt it.

Also, in terms of learning contexts as well, you can apply it to what is in the classroom, or in a, you know, after-school program setting, youth clubs, community groups, science centres and museums, etc.

Though what’s really unique is that, for this initiative, we’re trying to pick topics that are more interdisciplinary. So you know, if you are teaching a science class or an arts class, you can always bring this activity into your classroom. It’s just not only for, you know, a science of a space unit. You can add a lot of layers to it and work with a lot of different topics within this activity.

So to sort of offer this, this particular year, our theme is something that is very relevant and -- it’s not only for, you know, astronauts in space, but also people here on Earth. So in the last few years, you know, during the pandemic, many of us had experienced isolation and stress and we know that astronauts go through similar experiences when they’re in space.

So for this first edition of Space Brain Hack, we’re asking students to think about solutions that can help keep astronauts’ mental well-being healthy, you know? Keep them mentally well as they’re in space.

And we know that we have had continued presence in space for more than 20 years and that’s a little bit longer than actually a lot of the -- most of the students that you would have, you know, in this activity.

So thinking about that, you know, currently they are living aboard the International Space Station, which is only 400 kilometers up that way. And so it allows for us to, you know, replenish the supplies, have many astronauts basically, you know, do turnovers quite often. You could have astronauts for up to like six months, approximately six months, on average, mission time, and they would have rotations, you would have new astronauts coming. And if there are any issues, they can technically come back to Earth.

So the, you know, the 400 kilometers distance is not a lot, to think of it, it’s from Toronto to London and back, or Montreal to Ottawa and back, or Vancouver to Kelowna. So it’s a very short distance. But now we’re thinking of expanding, we’re thinking of going beyond the International Space Station. In 50 years humans have not walked on the Moon, but that will soon change.

And as we head back to the Moon, our natural satellite, and hopefully beyond, we really need to think about what the astronauts will be doing as they go further, the amount of time that they will be spending away from Earth and their family.

So this is where the idea of, you know, keeping them mentally healthy and well, really comes -- it comes into play, as they travel further and deeper and spend more time doing the science and the exploration that we would like them to do.

So for students, what we would really like for them, is to think about how can you maintain, you know, astronauts’ mental well-being and health on these long duration missions, deep -- potentially, deeper into space as we go further.

Keeping in mind the constraints that are present though, think about this. We have astronauts that are going further. There will be communication -- limited communications and more additional challenges beyond what we currently have with them being on the International Space Station.

So we want students to think about what sensory simulation we could provide to astronauts. Virtual escape from their work and stressful environment that they will be in, and help them maintain this connection with family and friends and Earth as well, as they are going, you know, further away from Earth.

And in doing these long-term missions, you know, these challenges that I mentioned, but there are other challenges. So in the material that we have provided, we talk about the constraints that students will have to think about as they think about these solutions. And, you know, we cannot wait to hear their ideas and what they come up with, in terms of solutions to help astronauts’ mental well-being.

Now to aid you as an educator in getting this activity going with your students, we have provided a set of resources to help you.

So first we have an educator guide, and I’ll come back to this in a bit; talk a little bit more about what the educator guide is and what it provides. We also have a toolkit on mental health in space and isolation, so this is a toolkit that provides support in contents that you can, you know, review. You can use it with your students as you are implementing this activity. There are infographics as well as videos, additional activities, curriculum links and that’s something that if you are interested in, outcomes for this activity as well.

We also have a presentation to students. This is a turnkey presentation with notes. So you do not need to be an expert to be able to implement this activity in your classroom. They are providing you will all information and prompts you will need to do this activity with the classroom. And also provide them with the information that they will need in order to do the activity.

We also have student worksheets, as I mentioned before, the activity -- this particular initiative is divided into two grade groups. So we have one worksheet for Grades 6-8 and the other one for Grades 9-12.

And this is what the students will fill in, in order to…in order to put down their idea and submit it to us and so, you can have one worksheet per team that you can submit for each of the teams, or as an individual as well.

We also have the terms and conditions which are just, you know, disclaimers and rules and then what the prizes will be. And I’ll mention them in a bit. That’s just something to keep in mind as you plan to implement this activity.

And then, we also have a submission form that I’ll show you in a couple of slides. This is where you as an educator will be submitting the ideas of your students. This is the worksheets that you’ll be submitting.

And the last, but not least, this webinar’s being recorded and along with Frequently Asked Questions. hey will be posted to our website, which is on your screen right now, so if you need to go back and look that any of this part of the session, or have any other questions, feel free to check out the Frequently Asked Questions page as well.

And then to add to the experience of doing this activity and thinking about the solutions that can help astronauts, we encourage you to invite local exerts, to engage with students and inspire them; have them think about their ideas, you know, pitch it to someone who is an expert, locally. So we think that would really add to their experience as they’re thinking about this.

So about the Educator guide I mentioned, this is where you will find all the information that you need to run this particular activity. This has, you know, the objectives, curriculum themes, the challenge outcomes, as well as the skills that they’ll develop as they do this activity. We are also including the format… So, I mentioned there are flexible formats. We have thought of a few different formats that we tested the initiative in, and so we have given examples of those three different formats that you could run it. But feel free to pick it up and figure out how it works best with your students and in the learning context that works for you.

It also details all the submission process, so the notes for the process of submission; the format in which you need to submit; where you need to submit; the deadline, and also it lists our email address if you have any questions. You could definitely just go ahead and have a look at the Educator Guide and we’ll give you directions on how to ask your questions.

We have also included assessment criteria. So this is the criteria that we will use for assessing these entries that come in. And so hopefully this will allow you to guide your students and to develop their idea and put it in the worksheet. And then so, if you have a, you know, if you are looking for what we are looking for in these entries, feel free to look for the assessment criteria.

And then, last but not least, we’re giving additional information, just like what we have in the toolkit. These guiding questions that you can utilize as you introduce these different concepts to the students related to the challenge and as they are working on their challenge as well.

Now, as for the submission, we’re trying -- we have tried to keep it very simple for you. Keeping it as easy as possible. So it’s really a two-step process. You are just filling this very short form online. You can see it on the screen. And as worksheet, like I said, one per team. And that’s all you need to do. You know, if you require an alternative format of submission, please feel free to send us an email and we’ll be able to discuss that.

And just to note, we’re not asking the name of students at this time. It will only be required and we’ll request that when, you know, if your team is chosen as one of the winners. That’s the only time when we’ll require or we’ll request a name of the student. So you don’t need to worry about that, as you submit these applications.

And just to -- just before I end and go into Q&A, I wanted to share what’s in it for you and your students. So for each category, so Grade 6-8, and Grade 9-12, we’ll be picking top ten winning projects. And these will be the ones that will be showcased on our website. And the top three out of those top ten will have an opportunity to actually participate in a virtual session with the CSA experts-so experts for the topic that will be chosen for a particular yearwhere they will be able to present their solution and get feedback from experts. I think that’s an amazing opportunity for students to get live feedback on their idea.

And then the grand prize winner will get a virtual visit from a CSA expert, or an astronaut, and this could be either just for them, their family, their class, their group, or their school. So it’s really exciting that, you know, there are amazing things to be won by the students and also by the educator, in the same context.

Thank you all for attending and thank you Tiana for, you know -- we’re really excited to bring this particular initiative, in addition to the -- our initiative to the students across Canada and we’re hoping that you will have an opportunity to have a look at our activities and bring them to the students.

And we’re really looking forward to their ideas and then innovations and inventions that they come up with in order to, you know, help astronauts’ mental well-being but also, as I said, this will be annual initiative. We’ll be running it every year. So feel free to have a look and if you have any questions, we’ll be available to answer.

And this recording, as well as the Frequently Asked Questions, will be posted on our website, so please have a look in a couple of weeks and they will be all right there for you.

Thank you!


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