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6-8 > Physical Science
Grade level: 6-8 Subject: Physical Science Duration: One class period
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Students will understand the following:
1. Special talents and training are required to become a rocket scientist.
2. Many other careers, as well, are involved in the space program.

For this lesson, you will need:
Research materials
Computer with Internet access

1. Ask students what people mean when they say, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do that.” What does the expression imply about rocket scientists?
2. Discuss with the class what kind of person they think should consider rocket science as a career. You might lead students to recognize that although one doesn’t need to be a genius to be a rocket scientist, a person considering such a career should have extraordinary talents in science.
3. Continue the discussion by asking students to think of other careers for people who wish to be part of the space program. What other jobs are needed to put a rocket into space?
4. Have students choose space program careers to research. They should find out as much as they can about the requirements for the jobs they research and about the outlook for the future.
5. After students have completed their research, have them present their findings to the class in oral reports.
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Adaptations for Older Students:
Suggest that interested students write to colleges and universities that have programs in rocket science and related fields. Students can request course catalogs and other informational literature about requirements for admission to the programs.
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Discussion Questions

1. Does a dream, the excitement of the technical challenge, and potential peaceful purposes justify building weapons that kill other people?
2. Although putting a man on the moon achieved political goals, some people question whether it provided any real benefit to the United States. What is your opinion on this issue?
3. Would the United States space program have been as successful as it has without the salesmanship skills of Wernher von Braun and his ability to constantly communicate his message?
4. How important are communication skills to scientists and engineers? To what extent do you think Wernher von Braun felt he was successful? What constitutes success, and how will you determine it for yourself?
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You can evaluate your students on their reports using the following three-point rubric:
Three points:complete information about job requirements; presentation clear and lively
Two points:adequate information about job requirements; clear presentation
One point:sketchy information about job requirements; presentation poorly organized
You can ask your students to contribute to the assessment rubric by determining what sort of information about job requirements should be included.
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Scientist Top-10 List
Wernher von Braun, whose genius led to the design of the Saturn V rocket that propelled the Apollo spacecraft to the moon, was clearly one of the 20th century’s most influential scientists. Who are some others? Have students develop a top-10 list of 20th-century scientists, including women and minority group members among their choices. Have them prepare a talk show introduction for three of them.

Should the United States Go to Mars?
Divide the class into two groups, and have each assume the role of congressional staff determined to sell their side of the question before an appropriations vote is taken. Teach presentation skills as part of this activity, and ask each side to consider the following in preparing the presentation:
-The costs in money and resources
-Benefits to be derived from the expenditure
-Other possible allocations for both the funds and the resources needed
-The benefits of using resources in these areas
Students should also take into account the following factors:
-The current state of the economy, unemployment, and interest rates
-The environment
-Poverty, the homeless, and other social issues
-The use of technical expertise

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Suggested Readings

"Let's Do Launch"
Jeffrey Kluger, Discover, December 1993

"No Downlink; A Dramatic Narrative about the Challenger Accident and Our Time"
Claus Jensen, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1996

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Searching for Evidence of Water on Mars [PDF]
Find information and additional activities on this topic at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab website.

Careers in Space [PDF]
Find information and additional activities on this topic at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab website.

Wernher Von Braun
For a photographic history of one of the fathers of spaceflight, visit this site.

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Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    jettison
Definition:To expel or discard weight to lighten a load.
Context:...Docked with the lunar lander, then jettisoned the third stage and continued on their journey.

speaker    legacy
Definition:A bequest or gift left by a will or passed on from a predecessor.
Context:I think Wernher's legacy generally is that he opened up the skies to us in more ways than one.

speaker    metallurgy
Definition:The science and technology of extracting and purifying metals from their ores.
Context:Under the supervision of Wernher von Braun, thousands of designers and technicians planned the top secret installation, including a highly sophisticated wind tunnel, metallurgy shops and launch facilities.

speaker    propulsion
Definition:The action of driving or propelling something, such as a rocket, forward or upward.
Context:They were both designed with protective shields, oxygen supplies, and propulsion systems.

speaker    thrust
Definition:The force provided by a rocket engine to propel a rocket.
Context:Five powerful rockets deliver seven and a half million pounds of thrust to lift the six million pound vehicle off the ground.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level:9-12
Subject area:technology
Understands the scientific enterprise.
Knows that progress in science and technology can relate to social issues and challenges.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:technology
Understands the interactions of science, technology and society.
Knows that individuals and society must decide on proposals involving new research and technologies; decisions involve assessment of alternatives, risks, costs, and benefits, and consideration of who benefits, who suffers, who pays, who gains, what are the risks, and who bears them.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:physical science
Understands motion and the principles that explain it.
Knows that law of motion are used to calculate precisely the effects of forces on the motion of objects; the magnitude of the change in motion can be calculated using the relationship F=ma.

Knows that objects change their motion only when a net force is applied; whenever one object exerts a force on another, an equal amount of force is exerted back on the first object.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:world history
Understands the causes and global consequences of World War II.
Understands the climax and moral implications of World War II.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:world history
Understands the promises and paradoxes of the second half of the 20th century.
Understands how trends in science and art have influenced society.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:math
Understands the general nature and uses of mathematics.
Understands that theories in mathematics are greatly influenced by practical issues; real-world problems sometimes result in new mathematical theories and pure mathematical theories sometimes have highly practical applications.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:life skills
Makes general preparation for entering the work force.
Determines the types and preparation and training needed for entry-level jobs.

Analyzes a current job and its future possibilities.

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