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Living Bones, Strong Bones
November 18, 2011

An Educational, Hands-on Activity

Explorers need strong bones so they can face the physical challenges placed on their bodies while in space. The longer astronauts are in the environment of space, the more weak their bones become due to a lack of loading forces (gravity pulling on your body).

Bones below the waist are most affected by reduced gravity environments, and the bones located in these areas are more likely to suffer bone loss during spaceflight. It is important for astronauts to train before, during, and after their flight in space to maintain strong bones all their lives. A diet including calcium and Vitamin D also helps astronauts maintain strong bones.

Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will observe bones, comparing bone size relative to the living being in which the bones are found.
  • Students will design a bone model, then compare and contrast the weight bearing capacity of their bone model, making inferences about bone structure, weight bearing bones, and the effects of different environments on those bones.


Educational Resources

› Living Bones, Strong Bones Educator Handout (PDF)
› Living Bones, Strong Bones Student Handout (PDF)
› Huesos vivos, huesos fuertes Sección del Estudiante (PDF, en Español)
› Huesos vivos, huesos fuertes Sección del Instructor (PDF, en Español)


Education Standards

The following National Education Standards are addressed in this education module:

› Science (NSES)
› Technology (ITEA)
› Mathematics (NCTM)
› Health (NHES)

National Wellness Initiative

This activity meets the needs of the federally mandated Local Wellness Initiative and may help the needs of your Local Wellness Plan.


Youtube Override: 
NASA astronauts explain why they need strong bones to face the physical challenges of spaceflight, and NASA educator Nubia Carvajal walks students through the process of designing a bone model and filling out the data sheet.
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A Silhouette of a young girl and a chicken, each with a leg bone highlighted
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Page Last Updated: July 21st, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator