Since the very early days of the American space program, NASA scientists have focused on the issue of providing astronauts nutritious food in space. Thanks to a new teaching curriculum developed by the education team at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center, students in grades 5-8 will join in the effort.
The Stennis Education Office has released its new "Food for Thought" teaching curriculum and interactive website. It uses the idea of food in space to teach students such topics as caloric content and nutritional value of food, while challenging them to build space robots, design a better microgravity coffee cup and create a space cookie recipe.
"We're excited about the new curriculum and how it will engage students," said Katie Wallace, director of the Stennis Office of Education. "It offers valuable lessons while also challenging students with fun, hands-on activities. This is exactly the type of teaching that will help educate and inspire the innovators of tomorrow."
The curriculum is the third produced by the Stennis education team, all within the last 15 months. It is part of NASA's Teaching from Space initiative, designed to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning by students. Typical Teaching from Space curricula engage students in real NASA missions and research.
The Food for Thought curriculum follows that format by helping students research caloric content and nutritional value of space foods, develop sample space food menus, design a robot capable of handling foods, sample surfaces for microbial contamination, investigate the properties of liquids in space, design and test a microgravity cup, and create a space cookie recipe and bake it for taste testing.
The curriculum website includes educational activities to teach students about space food and human spaceflight, as well as videos and links to encourage further exploration. The site also features a fact-filled "Space Food Hall of Fame" where visitors can read about famous and noteworthy space foods and vote for their favorites.
Food for Thought was developed in coordination with the FIRST® LEGO® League, which has a Food Factor challenge in 2011 for students ages 9-14 to explore the topic of food safety and find ways to prevent contamination. The Stennis team also coordinated with local universities for review of the curriculum content.
"Our education team really enjoyed creating this curriculum," Wallace said. "We hope teachers will use it for years to come to help excite students about learning and about space exploration."
For information about Food for Thought, visit: http://education.ssc.nasa.gov/foodforthought.asp
For more information about NASA education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education
For information about Stennis Space Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis/.
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