Space Odyssey 2001

Written by: Catherine R. Ney

    Space Odyssey 2001 is a 6-week unit designed for teachers of grades K-6 to use with their students across-the-curriculum. It emphasizes hands-on problem solving and cooperative-learning
activities that teachers can readily do with children. The fourteen activities are designed to:
        a).  simulate effects of space on forces, foods, and fibers;
        b).  solve some of the technological problems that astronauts face in space;
        c).  construct a time capsule that communicates earth messages;
        d).  explore the planets in outer-planets in our solar system; and
        e).  build a space city. The unit includes 5-sample design briefs, a bibliography and four NASA-funded space sources.



    The original Space Odyssey began whenVoyager II was launched in 1977. This unmannedspacecraft was responsible for most of the information about the solar system. In its 12-year, 4.4 billion mile journey, this 1-ton spacecraft successfully crossed the asteroid belt beyond Mars, passed close to the face of Jupiter, viewed the rings of Saturn, and observed the moons and dark rings of Uranus.
    Its last planetary visit focused on the stormy atmosphere of Neptune, before leaving our solar system to enter interstellarspace.


1. Challenge students to discover and understand man's exploration of space.
2. Have students simulate the effects of space on forces, foods, and fibers that astronauts experience.
3. Solve some of the technological problems astronauts face in on the moon and in space.
4. Construct a time capsule that can communicatemessages to other civilizations.
5. Identify and explore the outer planets in oursolar system.
6. Write factual and fictional accounts that involve space exploration.
7. Build a model of a space city.

Instructional Approach:

Part I: Preparation for Space Travel
a. Elicit what students know about space travel.
b. List students' knowledge.
c. Give background information on the mission.
d. Tell students that in the weeks ahead they
will prepare for a manned  mission into outer space.

Theme A:  FORCES.

Activity 1:: "Does It Fly?"
-Record design in your Mission log.
-Build a paper flier.
-Discuss the speed and lift it takes to overcome the forces of gravity.
-Show video: "Forces" (4-H Blue Sky...)
-Use Discovery activities (NASA).

Activity 2: "Balloon Rockets"
-Experiment with balloon rockets.
-Discuss what fueled the rocket.
-Compare balloon rockets to space rockets.

Activity 3: "Egg Drop"
-Record design in Mission log.
-Construct an original packaging model.
-Discuss how space cargo must be protected to prevent satellites, probes, and telescopes from being damaged.
-View video "Forces" (4-H Blue Sky...)
-Launch rocket (4-H Blue Sky...)


Activity 4: "Space Backpacks" (Mission 21, Level I).
-Record your design in Mission log
-Design a grocery-bag space backpack.
-View video "Fibers" (4-H Blue Sky...)
-Read To Space and Back (Ride and Okie)
-Introduce Living in Space: Clothing (NASA)

Theme C: FOOD

-Activity 5: Use design brief:

"A Lunch Box in Space" (Mission 21, Level I)
-Record your design in Mission log.
-Design a shoebox lunchbox for space.
-Try drying apple slices.
-Try dining on Tang and powdered eggs.
-View video "Foods" (4-H Blue Sky...)
-Introduce Living in Space: Food (NASA)
-Perform and chart daily conditioningexercises.

Journal Writing:
-Write in journal biweekly on one of these topics:
"What I'll Pack for Space Travel",
"What I Learned from Space Training"
"What I Expect to See, Hear, Smell, Taste and
Touch on Space Journey".



Activity 6: "Cosmic Sunglasses"(Mission 21, Level I)
-Record design in Mission log.
-Construct tag-board sunglasses.
-Read What is the Moon Like (Branley)
Going to the Moon (Muirden)


 Activity 7:   "Lost on the Moon"(NASA)
-Record answers on the design-brief sheet
-Read The Moon (Simon)



Activity 8: "Time Capsule"

-Construct a scrapbook that includes: environment, entertainment, education, technology, good and services examples.
-Make a written, taped, or videotapedmessage.
-Discuss SpaceArc: The Archives of Mankind
-Examine Murmurs to Earth (Sagan)

Activity 9: "Communication: In 12,000 Days"
(Mission 21, Level III)


Exploration of the Outer Planets
-Generate items students will need for space travel.
-Write in journal, "What I Packed for Space Travel".
-Complete a timeline with visual-planet models: Earth (August 20, 1997; Jupiter (July 9, 1999); Saturn (August 25,2001);Uranus (January 24, 2006) and Neptune(August 25, 2009).
-"Blast off!" in a space ship  replica.
-Planets are learned mnemonically in order (as nine-student models of the planets orbittheir Sun): My (Mercury), Very (Venus),Educated (Earth), Mother (Mars), Just(Jupiter), Sent (Saturn), Us (Uranus), Nine(Neptune), Pizzas (Pluto).
-Keep a daily diary in journal.
-Use Seymour Simon's books and "Voyager: The Grand Tour" (Young Astronaut Program) to supplement 2001 Space Odyssey information as follows:
        Mars: Compare its two moons and 687-day orbit with Earth's one moon and 365-day orbit. Discuss its barren surface and the "canals" once thought to represent life.

Activity 10: "Patches" (Mission 21, Level I)
-Record design in Mission log.
-Make tag-board patches.

Activity 11: "Space Stories"(Mission 21, Level I)
-Read War of the Worlds (Wells)
Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak)
Space Case (Marshall)
Adventures in the Solar System (Williams and Regan)
-Write a fictional story: (examples)
        The Martians Are Here
        Space Alien
-Jupiter: Avoid the asteroid belts as you safely view Jupiter. Consider how it got 16 moons. Estimate how many Earths would fitinside Jupiter (88,730-mile diameter versusour 7,962-mile diameter). Discuss its 11.9 year orbit compared to Earth's. View the Great Red Spot and hypothesize as to whatcaused it.
-Saturn: Compare its 20 moons to the number of moons on other planets visited. Discuss its
time to orbit the sun (29.5 years) in relationship to Earth's orbit. Observe photos of Saturn's celebrated rings. Hypothesize as to what these bands are composed of. Discuss its moon, Titan, with its nitrogen and
hydrocarbon atmosphere. Since it could support"life", speculate as to what Titanites might look like.
-Write in journal, "Where the Titanites Live".
-Uranus: Again compare its 15 moons and 84 year orbit to other planets visited.  Theorize as to why Uranus appears "blue".  Discuss its watery surface. Point out that Uranus is the only planet that lies on itsside. Discuss how this oddity affects itspoles as it orbits the sun.
-Neptune: List students' prior knowledge about Neptune ,"What I Know AboutNeptune". Then discuss, "What I Would Liketo Know About Neptune ?" Tell students that until that until recently very little was knownabout this planet.
-Students write a newspaper article:"Space Odyssey 2001 Views Neptune's  Rings". Incorporate information that includes its five rings and eight orbiting moons in this" What, When, Where, Why" story.
 -Celebrate Space Odyssey 2001 space travel with a presentation of the play, "To Neptune and Back or Donna's Cosmic Adventure" (Bires).
-Visit a planetarium and/or bring in a space expert to answer questions.

        Magic School Bus Inside the SolarSystem (Cole)
        The Planets in Our Solar System(Branley)


Activity 12: "Help Wanted in Space"(Mission 21, Level III)
-Write why you should be selected to help establish a space colony. Include your special talents.

Activity 13: "Vacation in Space"
-Draw your mural with captions on bulletin-board paper.

Activity 14:
"Space Colonization: Space Town" (Mission 21, Level III)
-Draw your space town design on newsprint.
-Construct your section of "Space Town" out of paper materials.
-Invite classes to visit your "Space Town."
-Describe your job in "Space Town" to visitors.

Student Assessment Procedures:

The students will be judged on the following criteria:

1. Student participation in cooperative-learning groups.
2. Student products (mission log entries, time capsule project, paper-airplane design, contributions to the space city.)
3. Student participation in force, food, and fiber activities.
4. Student mastery of space vocabulary and planet names and positions.
5. Student presentations to the class.
6. Completion of factual and fictional space accounts.
7. Proof of problem-solving abilities demonstrated during the fourteen activities.