Mission: Solar System

Expand/Collapse Mission: Solar System


Mission: Solar System is a transmedia project between NASA and WGBH’s Design Squad Nation, celebrating NASA’s Year of the Solar System. The project’s videos and hands-on engineering design challenges focus on the science and engineering involved in exploring our astronomical neighborhood. It provides kids in grades 3 to 8 with opportunities to use STEM to solve engineering design challenges related to exploring the solar system and increases their understanding of space exploration and engineering careers. 

  • Victoria Garcia: Aerospace Engineer

    Victoria Garcia is an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Virtual Environments Lab in Huntsville, Alabama. In this video from Design Squad Nation, she demonstrates how she uses virtual-reality tools to design an effective deep-space habitat. Victoria, who is deaf, also talks about how she doesn't consider being deaf a barrier in her work.

    Grades: 4-8
  • Tracy Drain: Flight Systems Engineer

    Tracy Drain is a flight systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. In this video from Design Squad Nation, Tracy describes her role in making sure all the parts and systems in a spacecraft work as expected. She also talks about “catching the space bug” as a kid and how fun it is to solve new, complicated problems.

    Grades: 4-8
  • Erick Ordoñez: Materials Engineer

    Erick Ordoñez is a materials engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Erick makes sure that the materials NASA sends into space are problem-free. He also likes salsa dancing. In the video from Design Squad Nation, he talks about the connections between his work, hobbies, and approach to life.

    Grades: 4-8
  • Sandeep Yayathi: Robotics Engineer

    Sandeep Yayathi is a robotics engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, Texas. Sandeep designs and builds humanoid robots to work alongside astronauts. His robots have a lot of dexterity, strength, and intelligence. In the video from Design Squad Nation, he talks about how rewarding it is to be involved in the entire design process, from designing to building and testing robots.

    Grades: 4-8
  • Allison Bolinger: Spacewalk Flight Controller and Trainer

     

     

    One day, astronauts will explore distant asteroids, planets, and moons. As a spacewalk flight controller and trainer at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Allison Bolinger teaches astronauts how to work outside their spacecraft. In this video from Design Squad Nation, Allison describes how she helps astronauts prepare for work on the International Space Station, such as using tools and maneuvering in weightlessness, things that are especially hard to do when wearing a bulky spacesuit.

    Grades: 4-8
  • Down to the Core Challenge

    Analyzing samples from a planet, moon, or asteroid helps scientists learn about its chemistry, geologic history, and potential to support past or present life. Nearly every NASA surface mission collects samples. In this video from Design Squad Nation, kids design and build coring devices that can poke into a potato “asteroid” and extract a core sample. The kids use the engineering design process, apply a variety of science concepts, and learn about NASA’s exploration of the solar system. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grade K-8 students.

    Grades: 3-8
  • Inspector Detector Challenge

    People love treasure hunts. But, in this one, kids are looking for something invisible! In this video from Design Squad Nation, kids design and build magnetic-field detectors and use them to find hidden magnets. As they build their detectors, the kids use the engineering design process, apply a variety of science concepts (e.g., force, magnetic fields, mapping), and learn how a planet’s or moon’s magnetic field gives NASA scientists insights into its structure and how it formed. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grades 3-8 students.

    Grades: 3-8
  • Invisible Force Challenge

    To change a spacecraft’s speed and direction, NASA engineers use a planet’s or moon’s gravity, a process called a “gravity assist.” In this video from Design Squad Nation, kids design and build systems that use magnets to control the speed and direction of a rolling ball. As they build their systems, the kids use the engineering design process, apply a variety of science concepts (e.g., force, magnetic fields, inverse square law), and learn how NASA spacecraft use gravity to help them explore the solar system.

    Grades: 4-8
  • Robo Arm Challenge

    Robotic arms are cool, useful, and fun to make. In this video from Design Squad Nation, kids design and build controllable mechanical arms and use their “robo” arms to lift objects and to play a series of games. As they build their mechanical arms, the kids use the engineering design process, apply a variety of science concepts (e.g., levers and tension and compression), and learn how NASA uses robotic arms in many of its missions. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grades 3-8 students.

    Grades: 3-8
  • Soft Landing Challenge

    Cars use airbags. Packages use airbags. Why shouldn’t eggs use airbags, too? In this video from Design Squad Nation, kids use balloons and other readily available materials to design and build a shell that can protect an egg when it is dropped from a height of three feet. Their systems model the airbag landing systems used by three NASA Mars missions. The kids use the engineering design process, apply a variety of science concepts, and learn about NASA’s exploration of the solar system. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grades 3-8 students.

    Grades: 3-8

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