Duration: 90 minutes
Countries from around the world are getting ready to send humans farther into our solar system, beyond the International Space Station. Nearly 400,000 km away from our planet, the Moon represents a crucial stepping stone in humanity's quest to travel onwards to Mars. Because the Moon is so far away, astronaut crews will have to act with more independence and autonomy than ever before.
Divide participants into teams. Each team represents a crew of astronauts who were forced to make an emergency landing 50 km away from their lunar base. The crew is safe but must survive the trek to the base. They can only carry a few supplies with them on their journey. The most critical items must be chosen from a list of 15 items that could help the crew survive until they reach the lunar base. Each team must analyze and then rank the items in order of importance for allowing them to safely get to the base. Each team will also write the survival benefit of each item and then present their results to the other teams. Each item has a numerical value. The team with the lowest score at the end of the activity wins. (See appendix for answers.)
|Introduction to lunar survival scenario & assign teams||15 minutes|
|Team discussion, ranking and reasoning||30 minutes|
|Present ranked list reached by consensus||15 minutes|
|Educator presents NASA's ranking with explanations||20 minutes|
|Each team compares their list with NASA's list and totals up the difference in scores||10 minutes|
Participants will need to come to a group consensus on the most critical items that will help them survive.
By the end of the activity, teams will be able to:
- Create and communicate arguments for a ranked list of items critical for lunar survival
- Collaborate with peers, including coming to agreements and trade-offs
- Think critically and prepare written arguments for their choices
- Present their choices and reasoning to their peers
- List of items that remained intact during an emergency landing on the Moon, 50 km away from the lunar base (see appendix)
- NASA's ranked list of items from the most important to the least important for survival on the Moon, including a brief explanation as to the importance of each item (see appendix)
- Divide participants into teams of 4. Each team will represent a different space crew.
- Provide background scenario to all the participants as described in the lesson description above.
- Provide each team with a copy of Table 1: Compare team ranking with NASA's ranking.
- The teams will discuss and rank the items from the most important to the least important for survival. The team will also write an explanation in the second column of Table 1 as to why each item is important for survival.
- After 30 minutes when all teams have completed their ranked list of all 15 items, groups present their list with the rationale for their selections. After all the teams have presented their results, provide copies of Table 2: NASA's answers to each team.
- Each team can write down NASA's rankings in the fourth column of Table 1.
Provide scoring to the teams:
For each item, mark the number of points that your score differs from the NASA ranking in the fifth column of Table 1, then add up the numbers in the fifth column. 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 – better luck next time!
|Team ranking||Team reasoning||Items||NASA's ranking||Difference (team ranking -NASA's ranking) Note: disregard plus or minus differences|
|Box of matches|
|15 metres of nylon rope|
|Portable heating unit|
|Small fire extinguisher|
|One case of dehydrated milk|
|Two 45-kg tanks of oxygen|
|Self-inflating life raft|
|20 litres of water|
|First aid kit, including injection needle|
|Solar-powered FM receiver-transmitter|
|Total the difference column (disregard plus or minus differences)|
|Item||NASA's ranking||NASA's reasoning|
|Box of matches||15||Completely worthless – there's no oxygen on the Moon to sustain combustion|
|Food concentrate||4||Efficient means of supplying energy requirements|
|15 metres of nylon rope||6||Useful in scaling Moon craters and tying injured together|
|Parachute silk||8||Protection from the Sun's rays|
|Portable heating unit||13||Not needed unless on the dark side|
|Small fire extinguisher||11||Possible means of self-propulsion|
|One case of dehydrated milk||12||Bulkier duplication of food concentrate|
|Two 45-kg tanks of oxygen||1||Most pressing survival need (weight is not a factor since gravity is one-sixth of Earth's – each tank would weigh only about 7.5 kg 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 litres of water||2||Needed for replacement of tremendous liquid loss on the light side|
|Signal flares||10||Use as distress signal when the lunar base is sighted|
|First aid kit, including injection needle||7||Needles connected to vials of vitamins, medicines, etc. will fit special aperture in NASA spacesuit|
|Solar-powered FM receiver-transmitter||5||For communication with lunar base (but FM requires line-of-sight transmission and can only be used over short ranges)|
Download the participant handout (PDF, 329 KB)
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