Here is a popular recent post from my Ask a Tech Teacher blog:
Space units are always exciting. Part of it’s the history, but a lot is that space is our final frontier, a wild untamed land that man knows so little about. Now that Elon Musk’s SpaceX has safely delivered American astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time in almost a decade, the fever of excitement over space couldn’t be higher.
I have a list of over 20 websites I use to support this theme for K-8. Here are some of my favorites:
This simulator will familiarize users with the controls of the actual interface used by NASA Astronauts to manually pilot the SpaceX Dragon 2 vehicle to the ISS. Successful docking is achieved when all greeen numbers in the center of the interface are below 0.2. Movement in space is slow and requires patience and precision.
This can be played online or as an app through Google Play.
This realistic webtool is an excellent scaffold for MS and HS students connecting STEM to their curiosity and excitement about space. Good applications not only for space but engineering, mechanics, and computer technology.
This is an online simulation that challenges students to build a working satellite. They choose what science their satellite will study, select the wavelengths, instruments, and optics that will be required, and then build! After launch, students can learn about a large range of real astronomical missions dating from the 1980s and the data they collected.
The game is a cooperative effort of the James Webb Space Telescope and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
To build a satellite, students must understand advanced topics like wavelength and optics, and research scientific areas such as black holes, the Early Universe, and galaxies as they select what their satellite will study. A real interest in telescopes and space science will make this game more meaningful.
This four-minute video discusses the sounds recorded by NASA spacecraft coming from our planet, Earth. Nicknamed Chorus, the song is an electro-magnetic phenomenon that is both haunting and musical. This ‘song’, which sounds a bit like bird’s chirping, is pinged out from our planet endlessly into deep space.
Play this as an introduction to the mystery that is space. It can be included in a list of websites that students independently access during flipped classroom preparation for a space unit.
The spacesuit used on space shuttle and International Space Station missions is like a personal spacecraft. This site includes lots of information about space suits, how they’re used and why, and then provides a clickable image that allows students to explore every part of it. Students click a named portion and it explains how that piece is integrated into the space suit’s overall job.
Include this as part of a far-ranging discussion on how man explores space. After all, it couldn’t be done without the space suit.
In this game, students experience the thrill of conducting NASA repair work on the International Space Station. After negotiating their way through the airlock, the student-as-astronaut will be tasked with jobs critical to help power up the space station so it can continue to operate. Oxygen is limited so students must efficiently yet quickly complete their ExtraVehicular Activities (EVAs) and get back into the airlock before the air supply runs out. In between repair jobs, students can leisurely explore the station before getting back to work, completing jobs such as unfurling solar arrays, repairing station parts, and conducting experiments.
Use this simulation as part of either a space science unit or to encourage critical thinking and problem solving among students, possibly within an exercise on gamifying classroom lessons.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers,. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Against All Odds, Summer 2020. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning