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Mission Briefing

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Executive Summary

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Executive Summary


The e-Mission format conceived by the Challenger Center at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, WV, is a proven, exciting tool for presenting fundamental science concepts. During the e-Mission and their Mission Specialist preparation, students….

actively participate in scientific [explorations] and ….use the cognitive and manipulative skills associated with the formulation of scientific explanations. P.173
[are introduced to] scientific topics that have been highlighted by current events. P.173
[are offered] science and technology-related problems [as] meaningful investigations. P.173
develop meaning through active involvement. P.173.

Science teachers can emphasize 7 ideas that help the students organize and understand the overriding impact of Space Station Alpha…

It is a significant scientific and technological experiment in a hostile environment.
It exemplifies the close relationship between science and technology.
It is a product of international teamwork.
It is in itself a laboratory in which humans are totally dependant for their survival upon cutting edge technology.
It is both a culmination of what mankind's scientific knowledge and a platform for new scientific discoveries.
It is a "manmade" ecosystem in which humans and technology are integral elements of the system.

Space Station Alpha's scientific and technological complexity requires that the program's developers select scientific and technological topics that are both manageable and meaningful to the eighth and ninth grade science student. To this end we focused on the following aspects of the space station challenge:

The space station is both a protective fortress and a "living organism."
The space station and its human cargo constitute a technologically-dependant ecosystem. All new additions to this system influence the balance of the environmental conditions.
The Sun is both life-source and potential enemy. It has become, only recently and thanks to advances in satellite technology, an astrophysical laboratory.
Radiation in space, as on Earth, is both beneficial and harmful, both friend and destroyer.
Electricity is the lifeblood of this technological "organism."
Life support systems are the technological "umbilical cord" that sustain the health and functions of the space station's human inhabitants.

Perhaps it helps to illustrate the challenge of developing e-Mission: Space Station Alpha by listing some of the aspects of the space station we could have, but due to constraints in class time, resources, and student background, chose not to introduce in this project:

The space station's water cycle and water management systems
Waste management
Food sources and management
Scientific experiments
An unending stream of innovative and exciting technologies

Copyright 2002. Challenger Learning Center at Wheeling Jesuit University. All rights reserved.