Right now, we are getting into a PBL unit for Mars settlement plans. The 8th graders are getting that excited look of CREATION as we begin!
We began the unit with the NASA game, Marsbound! Mission to the Red Planet Kids LOVED this game. It was a great way to introduce concepts about a budget, mission goals, and available science. Plus, my favorite part...budget cuts! Kids get so invested that they are hilarious when I do this. Printing out these game boards and pieces and laminating them was definitely worth it!
Then, I integrating the movie, The Martian, for some background and inspiration. I have a video viewing guide that we work through that includes various levels of questions and background science. I also have the areas listed to mute and do a quick hide of the screen for questionable material. I have students get a parent release signed even though it is PG13.
Then, students chose to work in teams to design:
- Rover design (working from the game) and 3D printing- I have 3 printers in the room to work with. We use a super simple app and website for design. The students also have the freedom to integrate Legos, cardboard, recycled products, and more! Whatever they need to pull together to make their design come to life. With so many print jobs, you might wonder how I manage the student requests...Google Form! They have to request a print by filling out a form.
- Space suit- Research, design, and drawing on paper or in the Paper53 app on the iPad. LOVE this! The kids are talking about basic human needs, material science, flexibility, function, and more. I will be so excited to share those designs.
- Crew welfare- Students work to provide for mental and physical needs of the crew while on the 8 month trip to Mars and when on the planet! This entails a lot of students creating Spotify playlists, finding apps on the iPad to create music, designing work out facilities, and more. Having them research the ISS workout plan is a great place to start.
- Settlement model- Students design a model for what they want the settlement to look like and have in it. This starts with research and watching videos like http://mashable.com/2017/03/03/lowcost-house-3d-printed-in-a-day-/#c7cN_s6adOqo and http://mashable.com/2017/05/04/solar-powered-robot-arm-mit/#DBD.3gyGBaqf Then, students can 3D print, use cardboard, Legos, recycled products, duct tape (more duct tape) to build the structure. Super fun!
- Food production and distribution- Research, design, and possible model building. This is turning out to be one of the best parts of the project! Students are researching caloric needs and comparing sample diets from around the world. Talk about eye opening. Thinking of raising insects or guinea pigs for food was not the initial idea, but research shows... Also, a great way to get kids talking about sexual and asexual reproduction in plants.
- Coding- I have a group of students that designed a Martian surface with mountains, craters, and debris using an old Lego competition table (4 ft X 8 ft). They used recycled products, sand, duct tape, garbage bags, cardboard, and more to design a challenging surface mission that other classes will code Sphero and some Lego Mindstorms through. The table is 2 levels of awesome student design!
- Rocket building- I asked my local Meijer store to donate rockets, and they did. They are level one rockets. So, definitely, very little teacher assistance required. I bought extra charges for multiple launches. This will be fun to have a couple of students launch rockets for each class period. I'm going to require this group to collect video for an iMovie in which they share their settlement mission statements, include the other teams' artifacts of learning, and show the rocket launch. So, basically, this team will become my media team by the end of it.
Now, all of this will come together in a large table for models, videos, and other artifacts in a Shark Tank method of pitching their settlement plan to me, a group of 7th graders, and a retired NASA engineer. The class that has the most developed plan will be "contracted" for the Mars Settlement Mission.
I will definitely be posting updates on our Instagram feed! @lacrossescience