NASA offers Exploration Design Challenge for K-12 students

NASA has launched a partnership with Lockheed Martin aimed at getting students engaged in America’s next phase of human space exploration. The Exploration Design Challenge invites students from kindergarten through twelfth grade to learn more about one of the biggest challenges NASA faces before sending humans beyond low-Earth orbit: space radiation.

Through a series of age-appropriate activities, participants will learn about radiation and its effects on humans and hardware destined for asteroids, Mars or other deep space locations. Orion is the vehicle for these space destinations and will make its maiden test flight in 2014.

The youngest explorers (K-4) will complete NASA education activities related to radiation. Upon completion, a teacher or other adult may submit the students’ names to be flown on the 2014 Orion flight as honorary virtual crew members.

Those same opportunities are open to students in grades 5-8, but they also will design and develop a radiation shield prototype. Instructions, guidebooks and related content are provided on the EDC website.

High school participants have an even greater challenge. In addition to the activities listed above, teams of students will design a radiation shield prototype that meets established criteria and constraints. Teams will submit their designs, and the top five designs will be tested in a virtual radiation simulator. The winning team will travel to Florida for Orion’s launch and have its design flown aboard the spacecraft.

For more information, go online to http://www.nasa.gov/education/edc.

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