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Digital Lab Mission Training Be a Spacecraft Engineer

Information for Teachers

Welcome to the STARDUST module.

The purpose of the STARDUST module is to help familiarize students with the mission of the STARDUST spacecraft as well as to serve as a vehicle for teaching them about engineering.

The students will have the chance to think through their ideas by designing a spacecraft online. They can then go out on their own and design their own spacecraft.

The module is divided into three sections: Mission Training, Mission Briefing, and Design a Spacecraft.

Mission Training activities focus on the building of STARDUST, why certain parts or methods of propulsion or comet dust capture were chosen over others, and concludes with a challenge to students to use what they have learned to design and build a new spacecraft. This is done through a series of challenges where students read about the various parts and can make some selections. Students also have the opportunity to tackle some of the math behind spacecraft trajectories, with some animation to tell them how well they have done.

None of the challenges are required. Students and teachers are welcome to go through this portion of the module and move on to the challenge of designing a craft. We recommend that they do as much as possible so they have a better concept of what will be involved when they design their own. Once they have completed this section they are presented with a mission!

Mission Briefing contains the purpose of their mission—to protect the new International Space Station—and background information that will be useful as they ponder their own designs.

The Design a Spacecraft section allows students to move various parts to create an online craft and then will allow them to upload designs they have created on their own.

Time Considerations. To do the module step by step, completing all parts will take about 45 minutes or longer, depending on the speed of the computer connection, and student reading ability. We suggest that the teacher divide the module up into three parts.

You can step through the module by clicking on the links found at the bottom of each page or by using the module tabs located at the top of the page.

National Education Standards

Standard 4 Understands the nature of technological design.
Standard 5 Understands the nature and operation of systems.
Content Standard E:

As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop 

  • Abilities of technological design
  • Understandings about science and technology

Performance indicators. Novice Apprentice  Researcher
Uses a computer to complete the task.      
Demonstrates an understanding that many parts are needed to make an effective system.      
Uses vocabulary in context.      
Uses technology to design a craft.      
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