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K-5 > Astronomy/Space
Grade level: K-2 Subject: Astronomy/Space Duration: One class period
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Students will understand the following:
1. For preservation of food and space-saving storage, astronauts on space missions eat dehydrated foods.
2. Dehydrationmeans “removal of water.”
3. Dehydrated foods can be consumed by mixing the food with saliva from the eater’s mouth or by adding water.

You may want enough of the following ingredients so that each student in your class can sample all foods, or you may want small amounts of each food for volunteer tasters only.
Dehydrated foods—for example, dehydrated bananas and figs, dehydrated peanuts, beef jerky, dehydrated instant pudding, Tang or other dehydrated fruit crystals, dehydrated ice cream
Plastic sandwich bags

1. Ask students what they know about the food astronauts eat on a space trip. Make sure students come to understand that to preserve the food and to reduce cargo weight on a long space trip, food is dehydrated (explain thatdehydrationmeans “the removal of water”).
2. Go on to explain that with some dehydrated foods liquid is later put back in either by stimulating the saliva in the eater’s mouth or by adding water to the product before eating it.
3. Even here on Earth, people sometimes use dehydrated foods. Ask students if they can think of any examples. Show students examples of dried fruits, and make the point that they are eaten without the addition of water.
4. Using pictures, make a list with students of other dehydrated foods that can be found in a supermarket or other shops. Then from that list, prepare a meal that might be enjoyed by astronauts out in space but that will be consumed by your students while in their classroom on Earth. Here is a sample menu and suggestions for ingestion in a gravity-free environment:
  1. Hors d’oeuvres: dehydrated bananas and figs (to be rehydrated in the mouth) and dehydrated peanuts (rehydration not necessary)
  2. Main course: beef jerky (to be rehydrated in the mouth) and dehydrated instant vegetable or fruit pudding (rehydrate with water in a sandwich bag, snip off a corner of the bag with scissors, and slurp out contents)
  3. Drink: Tang or other dehydrated fruit crystals (rehydrate with water in a sandwich bag and use a straw to sip out the contents)
  4. Dessert: dehydrated ice cream, available from stores such as Nature Company (follow instructions on the package for rehydration procedures)
5. After feasting on your space meal, have students orally rate their experience with each food and orally comment on their willingness to survive on dehydrated food for a long time.
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Older students might rehydrate several of the dehydrated foods by adding the water themselves. They may write reports rather than orally discuss the experience of eating dehydrated foods.
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Discussion Questions

1. During a Gemini space mission, astronaut Michael Collins experienced “a throbbing ache” in his left knee, but he decided not to tell mission control about it. Discuss why you think he decided to keep this information to himself. What could have caused the pain in his knee? Do you think he was scared? Explain what you would do under similar circumstances.
2. Describe three ways human beings here on Earth will scientifically and technologically benefit from research done on the orbiting Space Station.
3. What nations are currently working together in support of placing a Space Station in orbit around the Earth within the next 10 years? Explain why it is necessary for these nations to work together.
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Be sensitive to students who for health or religious reasons may prefer not to sample foods.
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Take an empty plastic bottle, and tie a string around its neck. Then fill it with 1 inch of water, and replace the cap. Carefully swing the bottle in a circle, and watch what happens. Then remove the cap, and repeat the experiment. Explain why the water does not spill even when the bottle is upside down.

Construct a Shuttle
Demonstrate for your students how to construct a model of the space shuttle, and have them follow your instructions for doing the same. You can use tape, Velcro, glue, shoe boxes, paper towel tubes, plastic soda bottles, and other household recyclables. Glue or tape together parts of the shuttle that should not separate. Use Velcro to hold together parts that will be jettisoned after liftoff (parts such as the fuel tank and rocket boosters).

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Suggested Readings

Zero Gravity
Gloria Skurzynski, Bradbury Press, 1994.
Read about zero gravity and see what happens during experiments involving the loss of gravity. This book won the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award.

Living in Space
Larry Kettelkam. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1993.
Read about people who’ve lived in space and about space suits, space stations, and plans to send people to Mars and, some day, to other planets in other solar systems. Do you want to be one of these travelers?

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It's about TIMED [PDF]
Find information and additional activities on this topic at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab website.

The Space Shuttle Clickable Map
Click on parts of the exterior view of the Space Shuttle and learn the name of each section and what it does. From this site you will find many links to other NASA Space Shuttle Web sites.

Live From Mars

This is NASA’s K-12 Internet site.

Living in Space Lesson
This NASA page is filled with hands-on K-8 lesson plans that will involve your students in learning how to survive in space.

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

speaker    freefall
Definition:Motion experienced by an object when being affected by the gravitational pull of a planet and no other significant forces.
Context:Because astronauts orbiting the Earth in the Space Shuttle are in gravitational freefall toward the Earth, they experience the illusion of weightlessness.

speaker    microgravity
Definition:A condition of real or apparent reduced gravity experienced on orbiting space vehicles.
Context:Orbiting astronauts experience microgravity conditions partly because they are farther away from the Earth, and mostly because they are in a state of freefall as they orbit the Earth.

speaker    dehydrate
Definition:The act of removing water from food to preserve it.
Context:The astronauts’ supply of fresh vegetables will be dehydrated so that they will not go bad during the long stay on the Space Station.

speaker    rehydrate
Definition:The act of restoring water to preserved food that has been dehydrated.
Context:Dehydrated, preserved food isn’t very tasty, so astronauts will rehydrate their dried food as needed during their stay on the Space Station.

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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:3-5
Subject area:science and technology
Understands the interactions of science, technology, and society.
Knows that scientists and engineers often work in teams with different individuals doing different things that contribute to the results.

Grade level:K-2
Subject area:physical science
Knows the kinds of forces that exist between objects and within atoms.
Knows that things near the Earth fall to the ground unless something holds them up.

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:physical science
Knows the kinds of forces that exist between objects and within atoms.
Knows that the Earth’s gravity pulls any object toward it without touching it.

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Ted Latham, physics teacher, Watchung Hills Regional High School, Warren, New Jersey; Summer Productions, Inc.
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