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Lesson Title: Crew Exploration Vehicle
May 11, 2012

Unit: Engineering - Exploration

Grade Levels: 7-9

Connection To Curriculum: Potential and Kinetic Energy, Acceleration Due to Gravity, Air Resistance, Measurement (Volume)

Teacher Prep Time: 15-30 Minutes

Lesson Time Needed: 1-2 hours

Complexity Intermediate

Keywords: engineering, design process, rovers, entry, descent, landing


Per Rover
Sections of 4-inch mailing tubes
2 plastic people (army guys)
Corrugated cardboard
Large rubber bands
Meter sticks or measuring tapes
Plastic drinking straws
Index cards
Cotton balls
Paper clips
Plastic wrap
Other various building supplies you wish to provide

Students will 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).

Students will:
• Engage in the engineering design process.
• Design and build a model CEV within certain parameters.
• Test their vehicles using a drop test and revise their designs.

First page of Crew Exploration Vehicle

Lesson Guide
Crew Exploration Vehicle Lesson
[207KB PDF file]



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Lesson Activities and Sequence
Design a Crew Exploration Vehicle Educator Guide

  1. Introduce the challenge: NASA needs a vehicle to take people to the moon. The space shuttle cannot do that, because it was never designed to leave the Earth's orbit. The crew exploration vehicle must be designed to serve multiple functions and operate in a variety of environments (scripted in the activity guide).
  2. Brainstorm and design: Students should be working in cooperative groups to develop a group design and using individual journals to record their decisions, design sketches, test results, etc. You may also use the provided activity pages for student drawings.
  3. Build, test, evaluate and redesign: Each team should conduct two drop tests from about 1 meter. Test data, solutions, modifications, etc., should all be recorded in their journals individually.
  4. Discuss what happened: Ask the students to show each other their CEV and talk about how they solved any problems that came up.
  5. Evaluation: Using the students' journals, assess their mastery of content, skills and the engineering design process.

Keywords: exploration, engineering, design process, human exploration, living and working in space

National Standards:


National Science Education Standards, NSTA
Science as Inquiry
• Understanding of scientific concepts.
• Understanding of the nature of science.
• Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world.
• Dispositions to use the skills, abilities and attitudes associated with science.
Science and Technology
• Abilities of technological design.
• Understanding about science and technology.
Physical Science
• Motions and forces.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, NCTM
• Solve real-life and mathematical problems involving angle measure, area, surface area and volume.

ISTE NETS and Performance Indicators for Students, ISTE
Creativity and Innovation
• Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products or processes.
• Create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
• Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.
• Identify trends and forecast possibilities.

Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making
• Identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation.
• Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.
• Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.
• Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.


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