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Lesson Title: Space Adaptations
June 27, 2012

Unit: Life Science - The Body

Grade Levels: 4-6 and 7-9

Connection To Curriculum: Science and Mathematics

Teacher Prep Time: 1 hour

Lesson Time Needed: 3.5 hours

Complexity Moderate

Keywords: bone loss, bone strength, microgravity, oxygen


Flour (approx. 5kg)
Scale or balance
Large, zippered plastic bags
Science journal
Single-hole punch
Pen or pencil
Rotating chair
2-liter soda bottles
Flexible plastic tubing
Paper strips
Clear tape
Large aquarium or plastic tub
Snack or 1-quart zip bags
Corn puff cereal
Heavy book
Broom and dustpan or vacuum
Measuring tape
Water-soluble marker

This lesson integrates a series of activities to investigate the adaptations that humans must make during spaceflight.

Students will:
• Demonstrate the effects of bone loss during spaceflight.
• Investigate the effects of bone loss on bone strength.
• Explore the effects of disorientation on humans.
• Explore the effects of microgravity on the human body.
• Discover the importance of the amount of oxygen needed for spacewalking.

First page of Space Adaptations

Lesson Guide
Space Adaptations Lesson
[81KB PDF file]



Professional Development Training Module for This Lesson

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› Launch Holey Bones training module  →
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Lesson Activities and Sequence
The listed activities lead students to investigate the effects of spaceflight on different systems of the human body.

  1. Vomit Comet
    Students will learn that motion can cause disorientation and understand why astronauts train to live and work in space. (Page 44)
    Keywords: motion, disorientation, swivel chair, orientation, spin

  2. O2 - How Much?
    Students will discover their oxygen requirements during relaxation and during strenuous activity. Then they can determine how much air an average "student astronaut" would need on a 7-hour spacewalk.
    Keywords: spacesuit, exercise, oxygen requirements

  3. Hole-y Bones
    Students will compare the amount of calcium needed by the body at different developmental stages and demonstrate the effect of calcium loss on bones.
    Keywords: calcium, developmental stages, osteoporosis, bone mass

  4. Bag of Bones
    In this activity, students will be able to identify the effects of decreased bone mass (osteoporosis) and describe why healthy bones are important in space and on Earth (Full Guide).
    Keywords: gravity, microgravity, adapt, density, bone loss

  5. Get a Leg Up
    During this activity, students will simulate the effects of spaceflight on the human body related to the shifting of fluids in microgravity.
    Teacher Guide
    Student Guide
    Keywords: body fluid, leg circumference, prop legs

National Standards:

National Science Education Standards, NSTA
Science as Inquiry
• Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world.
• Understanding of scientific concepts.
• An appreciation of "how we know" what we know in science.
• Understanding of the nature of science.
• The dispositions to use the skills, abilities and attitudes associated with science.
Life Science
• Characteristics of organisms.
• Organisms and environments.
• Structure and function of living organisms.
History and Nature of Science
• Science as a human endeavor.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, NCTM
Measurement and Data
• Represent and interpret data.


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