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June 5, 2012

The following list includes all the NASA Summer of Innovation lessons by grade level.​

Grades 4-6  |  Grades 7-9

Grades 4-6

Lesson Description Prep Time Lesson Time Needed Complexity
Air Foils Students investigate how an airfoil creates lift. Design an airfoil and construct a model of an airfoil.
Keywords: airfoils, wings, flight, smart skies, space math, x-plane, wright, propulsion, forces of flight, Bernoulli
2 Hours 2 Hours Moderate
Astrobiology: Life Here and Out There Students explore life here on Earth and utilize that understanding to determine what life is and how to look for it on other planets.
Keywords: journaling, observation, living conditions, definition of life, food, air, temperature, extremes
1 Hour 3.5 Hours Moderate
Bag Balloon Students construct a working model of a hot air balloon.
Keywords: temperature, heat, air, gas, lift
3 Hours 2 Hours Basic
Bernoulli and More Bernoulli Six easy and simple experiments that explain Bernoulli's principle.
Keywords: aerodynamics, Bernoulli's principle
1 Hour 1 Hour Basic
Composite Materials Students examine several samples of carbon fiber materials. Measure at least one sample and determine its volume. Calculate a sample's density.
Keywords: liquid, solid, gas, density, chemicals, matter, properties, alloys, cube, mass metals
20 Minutes 1-2 Hours Moderate
Controlling the Plane Students construct a working model straw glider, identify the major parts of an airplane and experimentally determine how the ailerons, elevators and rudders control a glider.
Keywords: aeronautics, parts of a plane
1 Hour 2 Hours Moderate
Cool Spacesuits Lesson will enable students to demonstrate, test and analyze materials utilized in spacesuits to keep astronauts cool in the harsh environment of space.
Keywords: radiation danger, spacesuits, outpost simulation, human needs, space environment
1.5 Hours 2 Hours Moderate
Danger: Space Debris Activities designed to examine the physics and dangers of natural and man-made debris traveling through space.
Keywords: Newton's Laws of Motion, force, friction, energy, momentum
45 Minutes 4 Hours Moderate
Designing Aircraft in Five Easy Steps - It's a Challenge! Students learn how NASA engineers develop and test experimental aircraft to solve a specific problem by using the engineering design process. 45 Minutes 1-1.5 Hours Basic
Field Trip to the Moon Students explore the moon's habitability and sustainable resources with activities that culminate with plans for the design and creation of a lunar station.
Keywords: lunar, satellite, stratigraphy, craters, lava, spacecraft, ecosystems, mining, habitat, scientific method, power station, energy resources, landing sites, medical
2 Hours 4 Hours Moderate
Fighting Gravity - A Matter of Balance Activities highlight what must be done to overcome effects of gravity for Earth orbit.
Keywords: gravity, center of mass, center of gravity, balance, weight
1 Hour 2 Hours Basic
Fluttering Fun, Point of Balance Activities designed to learn an object's center of gravity and how it can be changed.
Keywords: center of gravity, weight and balance
1 Hour 1 Hour Basic
Food for Thought Students explore the unique problems of keeping astronauts happy and healthy in space.
Keywords: energy, health, preparation, selection, waste, mold growth, planning and serving, ripening fruits and vegetables, nutrition, calories, storage
1.5 Hours 7 Hours Moderate
Four Forces of Flight A game that helps students learn the terms associated with flight: lift, thrust, drag and weight.
Keywords: aeronautics
1 Hour 1 Hour Basic
Gravity Games Activities designed to demonstrate gravity's role in recreation.
Keywords: friction, gravity, inertia, energy, microgravity, marble, toy, motion, sports, games, center of mass, center of gravity
1.5 Hours 9 Hours Moderate
Habitable Zones Students explore some of the reasons to think extraterrestrial life is possible by varying the distance from the Sun, studying organisms living under extreme conditions on Earth, and investigating extreme temperature effects on metabolism.
Keywords: temperature, metabolism, gas, extremophiles, star mass, bond albedo, distance from star, greenhouse effect of atmosphere
1 Hour 4-5 Hours Moderate
Have Seed Will Travel Students compare plants unique adaptations to reproducing in their environment.
Keywords: adaptation, survival, plants
1-2 Hours 1 Hour Basic
Heavy Duty Topics Activities highlight the difference between mass and weight.
Keywords: gravity, inertia, weight, mass, period, periodic motion, center of mass, balance
1 Hour 7.5 Hours Moderate
How Do Plants Know Which Way to Grow? Tropisms Students explore the effects of gravity on plant growth.
Keywords: adaptation, gravitropism, photosynthesis, survival, phototropism, light waves, gravity, light
2.5 Hours 7 Hours /
4-5 Days
Inertia and Friction Activities examine the relationship between mass, inertia, acceleration, force, friction and speed.
Keywords: Newton's laws, mass, inertia, acceleration, force, friction, thrust, staging, rocket design
1 Hour 2.5 Hours Moderate
Jet Propulsion Build a model to demonstrate how thrust is created in a jet engine.
Keywords: thrust, engine
2 Hours 2 Hours Advanced
Light Effects on Plant Behavior Activities investigate the principals of photosynthesis and effects of light on plants.
Keywords: adaptation, gravitropism, photosynthesis, survival, phototropism, light waves
2.5 Hours 4 Hours /
Act.1–4 Days
Act.2–3 Days
Act.3–4 Hours
Living Clocks Students observe that some behaviors and functions of living organisms vary predictably every 24 hours.
Keywords: circadian rhythms, behavior, plants, adaptation
1 Hour 10 Minutes Daily /
6 Days
Making Use of the EM Spectrum Activities designed to demonstrate methods of using the electromagnetic spectrum to learn about our universe.
Keywords: reflection, refraction, diffraction, medium, passive detection, waves, light, magnifier
1 Hour 2.5 Hours Basic
Manipulating Waves Activities designed to demonstrate methods of manipulating waves and applications of that manipulation.
Keywords: reflection, refraction, diffraction, magnification, spectrum, medium, interference
1 Hour 6.5 Hours Moderate
Nature of Salt Students examine the molecular structure of salt and the elements that compose it.
Keywords: matter, properties, ionic, molecular, compounds
10 Minutes 45 Minutes Basic
Reaction Rates Activities to help students discover conditions that make a reaction proceed faster or slower. Students demonstrate how increasing the surface area of a chemical increases its reaction rate.
Keywords: chemical reactions, antacid, gas, liquid
10 Minutes 1 Hour Basic
Search for Life on Other Worlds - Observing and Classifying Life Activities challenge students to make observations regarding the physical traits of living things with the intent to classify them through comparisons and contrasts.
Keywords: animal classification, stereoscopic vision, observations, written observations, accuracy
1.5 Hours 4.5 Hours Basic
Search for Life on Other Worlds - What is Life and What Does it Need to Live? Students examine the nature of life, what it requires, its limits, and where it might be found as well as learn important ideas related to the search for extraterrestrial life.
Keywords: define life, aliens, physical features of the body, habitation requirements
2 Hours 4 Hours Moderate
Shapes and Food Chains Students explore why plants and animals may need support systems and discover that plants are the main source of energy in the food chain.
Keywords: relationship between food, body shape, muscles, bones and skeleton
1 Hour 3 Hours Basic
Space Adaptations Activities to investigate the adaptations that humans must make during spaceflight.
Keywords: bone loss, bone strength, microgravity, oxygen
1 Hour 3.5 Hour Moderate
Space Weather Lesson explores the origins, processes and risks associated with solar radiation including how it travels through the solar system, affects the Earth's magnetosphere and poses a threat to astronauts and spacecraft.
Keywords: radiation, hidden, exposure, magnetometer, magnetic fields, magnetic storms, solar storms, solar eruptions
4 Hours 2-3 Days Advanced
States of Matter Construct a rocket powered by pressurized gas created from a chemical reaction between a solid and a liquid.
Keywords: density, mass, atoms, molecules, heat, spaceflight, weight, solutions, rockets, pressure, gas
2 Hours 4 Hours Moderate
Student Glovebox Students design their own investigation of the characteristics of various liquids.
Keywords: liquids, box, experiment
4 Hours 4 Hours Moderate
Survivor: The Space Environment Students explore and compare the space environment and Earth's environment to determine the resources needed for humans to survive in both environments.
Keywords: human needs, physical stress, food properties, menu selection, balanced meals, challenges, food web, population, data, ultraviolet radiation, solar, DNA, electromagnetic, solar cycle
1.5 Hours 8 Hours Moderate
The Brain in Space Activities to investigate the effects of space travel on the human brain.
Keywords: inner ear, human vestibular system, motion, fatigue, reaction time
2 Hours 4 Hours Advanced
Thrust, Air Pressure Rockets and Newton's Third Law Activities designed to examine thrust and Newton's Third Law applied to rockets and cars propelled by air pressure.
Keywords: thrust, rocket design, Newton's third law
1 Hour 4 Hours Moderate
Train Like an Astronaut Students can participate in physical activities modeled after the real-life physical requirements of humans traveling in space.
Keywords: disorientation, vestibular system, muscles, bones, brain, space adaptation, exercise, pressure changes
1 Hour 4 Hours Moderate
Wave Measurements Activities guide the students to explore the relationship between frequency and wavelength and apply it to explain the Doppler effect.
Keywords: Doppler effect, wavelength, frequency, energy, rotation, relative motion
1 Hour 3.5 Hours Moderate

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Grades 7-9

Lesson Description Prep Time Lesson Time Needed Complexity
A World of Change Activities introduce students to Earth's remote sensing tools and changes observed from space over time.
Keywords: satellite imaging, impact craters, water pathways, comparing planets, change over time
1 Hour 4 Hours Basic/
Air Has Weight and Temperature Affects It? Activities that develop a basic understanding about the weight of air and its basic importance to understanding meteorology and determining that a change in temperature of air affects its vertical movement.
Keywords: atmosphere layers, weather, moisture, clouds, climate, planetary weather, Coriolis, winds, planet atmospheres, gases, satellites, precipitation, radiation, air pressure, humidity, meteorology
1.5 Hours 2 Hours Basic
Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics Students perform a series of simulations to explore the theory and practice of flight.
Keywords: Newton's Laws of Motion, forces of flight, lift, drag, thrust, engineering design process, kites
1 Hour per computer simulation 1 Hour per computer simulation Advanced
Build a Solar Oven Engineering design challenge to design and build a solar box cooker, and test it out to see if it works well enough to make S'mores.
Keywords: energy, solar radiation, data
1 Hour 1 Hour Basic
Climate Activities introduce changes in water, ice and soil as well as understand how they reflect climate.
Keywords: global warming, hydrosphere, cryosphere, ice, glaciers, tilt, radiation, sun soil, ultraviolet light
1 Hour 4 Hours Moderate
Comet on a Stick Students strengthen their concepts of a comet by designing and building a model of a comet emulating a process that scientists and engineers follow on all missions.
Keywords: solar system, small bodies, coma, tail, nucleus, deep impact, scientific methods, solar wind, sun, orbits, Kuiper Belt, oort cloud
2 Hours 1.5 Hours Basic
Crew Exploration Vehicle Students design and build a crew exploration vehicle, or CEV, that will carry two cm-sized passengers safely and will fit within a certain volume (size limitation).
Keywords: engineering, design process, rovers, entry, descent, landing
15-30 Minutes 1-2 Hours Intermediate
Destination Mars Activities that are based on the planet Mars and factors that affect space travel.
Keywords: mass, trajectory, ratio, planet distances, design process game, problem solving
20 Minutes 4 Hours Basic
Earth Versus Mars Remote satellite images of Earth and Mars are used to compare and contrast physical processes that occur on both planets.
Keywords: erosion, landforms, craters, channels, planet origin, geography, volcanoes, earthquakes, day, year, charting, compare and contrast, topography, physical processes
1 Hour 1 Hour Basic
Earth: A One-of-a-Kind Planet? Students analyze physical processes that occur on Earth and Mars and compare differences on how particular similar physical features occur.
Keywords: surfaces, craters, hydrology, careers, astrobiology, online programs, extraterrestrial
30 Minutes   Moderate
Earth's Attic: The Moon Activities to help students understand the physical characteristics of the moon.
Keywords: cratering, geometry, triangulation, geology, meteorite, meteorite origin
2 Hours   Advanced
Electrodynamic Propulsion Activity challenges students to solve a real-world problem that is part of the space program using creativity, cleverness, and scientific knowledge, while learning about electricity, magnetism, forces and energy transfer. 4-8 Hours Twelve 45-Minute Sessions Advanced
Finding Earth-Like Planets Combines activities used to help students understand how extra-solar and Earth-like planets are detected.
Keywords: Mercury, Venus, sun, astrobiology, brightness, stars, galaxy, universe, predictions
2 Hours   Moderate
Finding Impact Craters Remote satellite images of the Earth are used to distinguish impact craters from other landforms.
Keywords: Earth, topography, atmomsphere, satellite technology, scientific process, satellite images, extraterrestial objects, meteorite, teamwork, data analysis, velocity, kinetic energy, latitude, longitude, geography
1 Hour 1.5 Hours Basic
Finding Impact Craters and Water Systems Students construct a model of a catchment basin. Students can see how remote satellite images are used to learn about drainage systems and catchment basins on Earth as well as their possible existence on other planets.
Keywords: Earth, topography, atmosphere, satellite technology, scientific process, satellite images, extraterrestial objects, meteorite, teamwork, data analysis, velocity, kinetic energy, latitude, longitude, geography
1 Hour 3 Hours Basic
Getting Off the Ground into the Smart Skies! Computer-based mathematics-focused introduction into the Air Traffic Control, or ATC, system. Using the Smart Skies: Line Up With Math activity, students learn how NASA engineers use ATC simulations to make flying safer and more efficient.
Keywords: air traffic control, simulator, computer-based
1 Hour 3 Hours Moderate
Getting the Drop on Flight with the 'X' Planes Students learn how small-scale models developed with simple materials can result in new aircraft and future space launch vehicles.
Keywords: X-planes, gliders, flight testing, models
1 Hour 1.25 Hours Moderate
Heavy Lifter Students design and build a crane out of cardboard. Determine methods to reinforce the crane's arms so it doesn't collapse under a heavy load, and build a crank handle.
Keywords: engineering, design process, rovers, entry, descent, landing
20 Minutes 1.5 Hours Basic
Heavy Lifting Air Engines Students use balloons to demonstrate concepts applied by jet and rocket engines to supply thrust for movement.
Keywords: jets, airplanes, balloons, aeronautics, thrust, rockets, vectoring, Newton's Laws of Motion
30 Minutes 1-2 Hours Basic
How Does Earth Compare? Activities to compare models of the size of Earth to other planets and the distances to other planets.
Keywords: models, comparisons, solar system, estimation, distances, sizes, Voyager, Gemini, shuttle, space station
1 Hour   Basic
Is it Safe? Activities designed to look at how we are protected from the sun's atmosphere.
Keywords: stars, nebula, Hubble Space Telescope, galaxy, stellar evolution
1 Hour 4 Hours Moderate
Landing a Rover Teams' challenge is to design and build a model of a lunar transport rover that will carry equipment and people on the surface of the moon.
Keywords: exploration, engineering, design process, rovers, planet surface, energy, force, momentum
30-60 Minutes Three 1-Hour Sessions Intermediate
Learning the 'Wright' Way to Fly! Students construct 3 different kite models and predict the most effective design. Design and test and aircraft given several parameters and explain how early flight was influenced by kites.
Keywords: kite, forces of flight, Newton's laws, laws of motion
1 Hour 2.5 Hours Moderate
Lunar Plant Growth Chamber Activity to grow plants in an environment similar to the moon designed in a unique partnership between NASA scientists and engineers and education professionals.
Keywords: botany, design process, ecosystem
3 Hours 12-18 Days Advanced
Make a Balloon-Powered Nanorover Design and build a robotic rover with cardboard and a balloon.
Keywords: design process, energy, motion, robotics, vision, direction
40 Minutes 1 Hour Moderate
Make a Comet and Eat It! Students develop a comet model that can be eaten and trade another "comet" on which to take measurement using four senses.
Keywords: solar system, small bodies, coma, tail, nucleus, deep impact, scientific methods, solar wind, sun, orbits, Kuiper Belt, oort cloud, edible
2 Hours 1.5 Hours Moderate
Mars Pathfinder Egg Drop Challenge Design, build and drop your "Pathfinder" from a high place and see if your payload (egg) survives.
Keywords: design process, landing, Newton's laws
20 Minutes 45 Minutes-1.5 Hours Moderate
Moisture and Clouds Activities help students develop a basic understanding of the relationship between cloud type and the form of precipitation and the relationship between the amount of water in the atmosphere available for precipitation and the actual precipitation observed by satellite.
Keywords: atmosphere layers, cloud types, humidity, water cycle, moisture, MY NASA DATA, precipitation, rainfall, water vapor, climate, climate zones
1 Hour 3 Hours Moderate
Moon Rovers Students design and build a rubber band-powered rover that can scramble across the room.
Keywords: exploration, engineering, design process, rovers, energy, force, momentum
15-30 Minutes 1 Hour Basic
NASA Simulations Students use NASA web-based simulators to follow sequenced directions and complete ordered tasks while learning how the shuttle is made ready for flight, how the shuttle docks with the International Space Station, how the shuttle lands, and how NASA retrieves the solid rocket boosters.
Keywords: simulations, computer simulations, computer-based
15-30 Minutes 1 Hour Basic
Nose Cone Aerodynamics Students compare the aerodynamic features of different nose cone designs.
Keywords: engineering design process, Newton's Laws of Motion, engine, gravity, drag, parachutes, fin, payload, trajectory, stability, launcher rocket, wind tunnel, propulsion, lift, drag, weight, thrust
30 Minutes 1 Hour Moderate
On Target Challenge Students modify a paper cup so it can zip down a line and drop a marble onto a target.
Keywords: engineering challenge, scientific method, rockets, moon, Newton's laws, engineering design process, moon, Mars, acceleration, vector, trajectory, potential energy, kinetic energy, LCROSS
15-30 Minutes 1 Hour Basic
Points of Light Activities looking at and measuring objects in the night sky.
Keywords: stars, galaxies, constellations, star field, sampling, light pollution, telescope, planetarium, online activity
2 Hours 4 Hours Moderate
Project X-51 - Water Rocket Construction Students form "rocket companies" and compete in a commercial endeavor to construct a rocket capable of lifting payloads into Earth orbit.
Keywords: rockets, design process, business plan
2 Hours 2 Weeks Moderate
Robotics - Hands Down! Lesson includes a series of activities that are based on robotics applications.
Keywords: effector, pick up, grab, space station, glove
20 Minutes 3 Hours Basic
Scale Models of the Solar System Students visualize the comparative sizes and distances of solar system bodies by making solar system objects to scale using common objects, walking off the distances between planets and participating in a Web-based Sun/Earth scale model activity.
Keywords: planet sizes, planet comparisons, Earth vs. Mars, models, science process, scale, orbits, solar system, sun, sizes
3 Hours 3 Hours Moderate
Seasons Students explore different factors related to seasonal changes.
Keywords: weather, ultraviolet light, Earth tilt, climate change, equinox, day and night, orbits
1 Hour 4 Hours Moderate
Solar System Missions Students investigate the historical and current planetary exploration missions.
Keywords: planets, discovery, Dawn, Deep Impact, Voyager, moon, Apollo, Mercury, Gemini, space shuttle, space station, Soyuz, Mir, New Horizons, history, rovers, unmanned, probes, Galileo, Cassini, Messenger, SOHO, Earth vs. Mars, models, science process, scale, orbits, sun, size
1 Hour 1 Hour Basic
Solar System Simulator Students investigate how to determine the relative position of the sun, planets and a number of planetary spacecraft using a simple Web-based program.
Keywords: planet sizes, scale models, distances, modeling, orbits, sizes
1 Hour 30 Minutes Basic
Space Rocks! A Giant Meteorite Board Game Students assume the roles of meteorites and play a giant board game to learn about meteors, meteoroids and meteorites. They compete to get to Antarctica, where they have the chance to be found and studied by scientists!
Keywords: meteoroid, meteor, meteor showers, games, simulations, asteroids
1 Hour 1 Hour Basic
Spacecraft Structures Activity challenges students to solve a real-world problem that is part of the space program using creativity, cleverness and scientific knowledge while learning about forces, structures and energy transfer.
Keywords: engineering challenge, scientific method, rocket, thrust structure, engineering design process, force, motion, energy transfer,potential energy, kinetic energy, unbalanced forces, compression
4-8 Hours Six 45-Minute Sessions Moderate
Spaghetti Anyone? Building With Pasta Engineering design process to build a structure to handle the greatest load. Gain first-hand experience with compression and tension forces.
Keywords: design process, structures, geometry, failure
15 Minutes 1.5 Hours Basic
Student Glovebox - Droplet Investigation of Liquids Inquiry-based technology lesson to construct a sealed container with built-in gloves and to explore the properties of liquids.
Keywords: fluids, viscosity, design process
1 Hour 4-8 Hours Moderate
The Sky Is Falling Activities to help students understand how meteorites can unlock answers to the early history of the solar system and how meteorites and their big brother, asteroids, have played a role in shaping planetary surfaces.
Keywords: meteorite, impact, geography, scientific process, measurement, volume, angle, velocity, rays, scatter pattern, meteor, topography
2 Hours   Moderate
Thermal Protection Systems Challenge Activity challenges students to solve a real-world problem that is part of the space program while learning about heat and heat transfer.
Keywords: engineering challenge, scientific method, heat transfer, transfer of energy, engineering design process, space shuttle, tiles, conductor, insulator, radiation, ablative shield
4-8 Hours Seven 45-Minute Sessions Advanced
Touchdown Challenge Students design and build a shock-absorbing system that will protect two "astronauts" when they land.
Keywords: engineering challenge, scientific method, rockets, moon, Newton's laws, engineering design process, moon, Mars, energy
15-30 Minutes 1 Hour Basic
Using Robotics Students simulate operating a planetary rover and problem solve solutions. Work within a mission team setting to problem solve and accomplish a common goal, and research examples of real world applications of robotics.
Keywords: programming, control, remote
20 Minutes 3 Hours Moderate
Vegetable Light Curves Students observe the surface of rotating potatoes to help them understand how astronomers can sometimes determine the shape of asteroids from variations in reflective brightness.
Keywords: asteroid belt, solar system, meteorites, small bodies, solar system formation, Dawn mission, rotation, albedo, reflectivity
2 Hours 1.5 Hours Moderate
Water Filtration System Lesson challenges students to create and test a water filtering system. Activities focus on water recovery and management.
Keywords: water quality, filtration, remediation, scarcity
1 Hour 5-6 Hours Moderate
What Influences Planetary Weather? Students create a simulation to model how the principles of the Coriolis effect influence weather patterns on a planet with gaseous atmospheres. Research the characteristics of what makes a planet habitable by engaging in a Web-based interactive game.
Keywords: Coriolis effect, mars comparisons, wind, earth cycles, planet rotation, astrobiology, life on other planets, astroventure, planet comparisons
1 Hour   Basic
What's in the Stars? Activities designed to look at stellar evolution and composition.
Keywords: stars, galaxies, constellations, chemistry, elements, stellar evolution, star cycle
2.5 Hours 3 Hours Moderate
Where Do We Choose To Live and Why? Students use a nighttime image to observe areas of light across the United States and to identify patterns and spatial distributions of human settlements.
Keywords: history, habitability, life on Earth, populations, U.S. at night, puzzles, problem solving, city lights
2 Hours 1.5 Hours Moderate

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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator