NASA STEM Challenges: NASA Exploration Design Challenge

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NASA STEM Challenge: NASA Exploration Design

Objective: Students use the engineering design process to build a prototype radiation shield that effectively blocks simulated space radiation on a spacecraft that will carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit and on to an asteroid or Mars.

Grade Level: 5-8

Time Required:  90 minutes 

Description: Students will study the effects of radiation on human space travelers and analyze different materials that simulate space radiation shielding for a spacecraft traveling in deep space. After participating in activities guided by their teachers, students will recommend materials that best block harmful radiation.

Final Product: Student teams will create and submit a video featuring the process they followed to arrive at their best radiation shielding design for a spacecraft.

Plan Your Challenge

Resources to Complete the Challenge PDF or Website Video
Training Overview for Educators   Watch or Download
Classroom Management Training for Educators   Watch or Download
How to Introduce the Challenge    Watch or Download
Challenge Checklist  View [55MB]  
Materials for Challenge View [41KB] Watch or Download
Step-by-Step Educator Guide -- Grades 5-8 Go to Website Watch or Download
   Elementary School Design Packet View [896KB]  
   Middle and High School Design Packet View [620KB]  
   Ray Shielding Activity Educator Section View [318KB]  
   Ray Shielding Activity Student Section View [455KB]  
   Ray Shielding Activity Student Section (Sp) View [455KB]  


Deliver Your Challenge

Resources to Complete the Challenge PDF Video
Introductory Video for Students From Astronaut Sunita Williams   Watch
Introductory Video for Students From NASA Associate Administrator for Education Leland Melvin   Watch
Presentation Slides for Students View [1.7MB]  
Presentation Slides for Students Discussion Guide View [54KB]  
Video Criteria and Rubric  View [58KB]  

Submit Student Videos

Blue video clapboardLearn helpful video production tips and access the technical requirements and instructions for submitting videos.

How to Submit Videos

Related Resources

Earth We Are the Explorers
Introduce students to NASA with this video about NASA’s past and future exploration.

Astronaut in spacesuit floating near the space stationWhat Is Engineering?
What is engineering, and who exactly is an engineer? Learn more in this video.

Girl positions pasta on a tableSpaghetti Anyone?
Use this simple activity to introduce students to Engineering Design.

Need help with downloading the video?

Try this.

Click Control or right click on the Download video link.

Select either the Save Target As or Save Link As option.

Select where you want to save the video on your computer, and save the video.

The video will show in the player that is loaded on your computer, such as QuickTime, iTunes, etc.

Page Last Updated: December 4th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator