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As of April 2005, space shuttle and station crews have spent more than 348 hours -- equivalent to two weeks -- spacewalking outside the International Space Station.

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A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover


Overview and Rationale

The purpose of the PBIU project is to investigate the physical science laws and standards by developing the students’ Lunar Thinking abilities. By following the process of problem-based learning (PBL), students will be able to investigate and explore the concepts of physical science. Even though the students will be exploring the physical characteristics of the lunar environment, the students must first understand the application of the physical science laws to the Earth.

The website has been divided into three modules, one for each area including elementary school, middle school, and the high school. Embedded within the website are professional-development programs for educators at all levels.

Using the PBL process, students can explore the challenges that confront the NASA scientists as they explore the lunar environment and the application of the physical science concepts and laws.

Importance of PBL

Problem-based learning (PBL) allows student to explore the challenges and essential questions that are vital to the development of Lunar Thinking as it relates to the lunar environment. By exploring, the essential questions that are found within the PBL meet the problem scenario; students can investigate and explore the laws of physical science.

Lunar Thinking

To understand the environment of Earth, we can apply the laws of physical science to the moon. Lunar Thinking uses the understandings of the Earth’s physical science laws to explore the lunar environment. The Earth and the moon are similar in many ways and vastly different in many other ways. Our understanding of Earth’s environment can often be strengthen by examining how objects are affected by the lunar environment.

Lunar Thinking addresses the application of the understanding of Earth’s environment to the lunar environment. Students will quickly discover that many of the day-to-day assumptions that dictate our daily routines and our working lives on Earth, will not apply to the lunar environment.The Earth and the moon are similar in many ways. However, they are vastly different. To achieve the understanding of the concepts and skills found within the physical science standards, students need to apply their understanding of Earth to a different environment such as the moon.

NASA scientists spend their careers using the process of inquiry to understand the physical laws of science. Scientists will design experiments that will explore the natural phenomenon and compare how it differs between the Earth and the Moon. By formulating essential questions, scientists can begin to understand the lunar environment and ultimately the environment of Earth. Simple experiments that we understand on earth will act differently when conducted on the Moon because of the different characteristics found on the Moon. Using their Lunar Thinking, students can identify those differences.

lunar thinking flow

Lunar Thinking Flow Chart

Understanding and Misconceptions

Understanding is important to the application of the physical science laws. All too often, misconceptions will arise that will result from the student difficulty to understand the lunar environment. Misconceptions can result from misinterpretations about the lunar environment and the application of the physical laws of science. Misconceptions can indicate the misunderstandings that are held by the students. Simple experiments that we use to understand the Earth, can help identify and clarify those misconceptions regarding the challenges of living and working on the Moon.

Introduction to the Website

By 2020, NASA plans to return to the Moon with new technologies and a new spacecraft designed to carry additional astronauts and with goals to explore and investigate the lunar environment. To accomplish these goals, we need to inspire our next generation of astronauts, scientists, and engineers.

Before we can return to the Moon, we have many challenges that we must face. Even though the lunar environment is similar to the environment found on earth, there are still a great deal of differences. Because of the lack of atmosphere and the reduced gravity environment, objects will act differently in particular those laws governing forces and motion.

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Last Updated: December 22, 2011
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