MaSTEM (Mars Adventure with STEM) – Space home design for those who dream of living on Mars

Author: Dr. Seyide EROĞLU

As a team, we conducted a project within the scope of the 2020 STEM Discovery Campaign activities. “ASTRO-STEM” is an eTwinnig project. The “ASTRO-STEM” project is designed to raise awareness with accurate information about astronomy and space science in students. It is aimed to discover the depths of the universe with STEM studies by having fun in the open learning environments where students can express themselves comfortably. With this project, students learned about astronomers, the history of astronomy, constellations and mythological stories, our galaxy, using a sky atlas, telescopes and an astronomy diary.

Another important part of this project is that it is based on the STEM approach. With the STEM approach, it is thought that students will achieve their project goals. For this purpose, “STEM DISCOVERY CAMPAIGN” participation was encouraged within the scope of “ASTRO-STEM” project.

The event was planned with the participation of all project participants. This event is divided into 12 pieces. The reason for being divided into twelve parts is that there are 12 mixed teams in the project, coming from different countries. In these teams, two different schools are mentoring teachers. The students in the teams come from each project school.

Each team has about ten students from different schools. The teachers carried out different collaborations with these teams throughout the project. One of the joint works was determined the participation in “STEM DISCOVERY CAMPAIGN”.

First, a research problem was identified. Our research problem is, “How to plan a Mars adventure from start to finish for an astronaut going to Mars?” Different task titles have been created for this research problem. 12 different titles were created for the twelve mixed teams. A combination of these titles creates a whole. And the resulting common product is also the answer to the research problem.

Problem situation: Due to the rapid increase in the world population and the rapid depletion of natural resources, the search for new resources became mandatory. Space mining has come to the fore as natural resources in the world are not sufficient for increasing needs. Mining operations based on obtaining minerals from asteroids in space are called space mining. For instance, you are in the team sent to Mars to work on space mining. In this case, you are expected to successfully complete the tasks given to us in Mars in accordance with the following steps.

A. Firstly, determination of the areas (Here, different requirements and priority areas are expected to emerge in order to survive in accordance with the living conditions and to conduct mine researches)

B. Creation of work teams

  • Team 1: How to Prepare for Astronaut Space Travel?
  • Team 2: What are the things you need to take with you on your way to Mars?
  • Team 3: What are the things that people who will begin to live in team 3 should know?
  • Team 4: What are the features of the Astronaut Suit suitable for Team Mars conditions?
  • Team 5: What are the features of the vehicles sent to Team Space?
  • Team 6: What are the contributions of Team Asteroid mining or space mining to the World economy?
  • Team 7: A space house design for those who dream of living on Mars.
  • Team 8: Fixing the food problem in Team Mars conditions.
  • Team 9: Eliminating the water problem in Team Mars conditions.
  • Team 10: Eliminating the problem of psychological and social adjustment to Team Mars conditions (creating an inventory of problems).
  • Team 11: Team repairing a system damaged by sand storms on Mars.
  • Team 12: Mars through the eyes of an astronaut (making the astronaut talk about emotions and thoughts using the web 2 tool)

Parts of the research problem was described above in detail. In addition, an online information meeting was held with the project mentors on the subject. Here, questions from teachers were answered. In addition, a road map has been set for the event.

The teams had online discussions on their topics. In this way, students exchanged ideas. Based on the ideas that emerged, the distribution of tasks was carried out among students. In this activity, we started working with our students as the 3rd Team. Our research topic was chosen as “space house design for those who dream of living on Mars”. First, we held an online meeting with the participation of students, under the mentor of teachers. Students discussed online and generated ideas by brainstorming. According to the emerging ideas, the distribution of tasks was carried out among the students.

In the online meeting, different ideas were presented by the students. priority topics related to these ideas were determined. Some of these titles are listed below.

1. What are the physical conditions on Mars?
2. What should be considered when designing a house suitable for Mars conditions?
3. What are the design criteria?
4. What should be the human capacity of the house?
5. How should the exterior design of the house look?
6. What materials can be used for home design?
7. Which web tool can be used to create a home design?

Discussions were held in online forums regarding the questions listed above. At the end of this, it was decided to create a design with the “Tinkercad” tool. The visuals related to the house design created with the students are given below.

The “Mars home design” 3D study link is available here.

By conducting teamwork between countries, a common STEM study was tried to be created with a group of students and teachers. Tasks are assigned to each team on a Mars journey. As a team, we will conduct the “space house design” part of this study. Together with my students, we will design a space house using a 3D design tool.

In this study, students conducted teamwork between countries. The students in the team tried to put forward a common STEM study with the teacher. The study sought an answer to a research problem. In this way, students had the opportunity to work like engineers (E (engineering) of STEM).

Also, scientific questions “What are the physical conditions on Mars?” and “What materials can be used for home design?” were included in the study. The students used their knowledge of “structure of matter” and “chemical change”, acquired in science classes (S (science) of STEM). In addition, the quantity calculations used in creating home designs (M (math) of STEM); the disciplines of T (technology) of STEM were taken into account in the creation of home design with the web 2 tool (tinkercad) and online discussions (T (technology) of STEM). When the whole study is examined, it is seen that different disciplines are used together. Through STEM strategy, they were provided with meaningful learning and gaining interdisciplinary perspective.

On the other hand, students’ awareness has been raised about “Mars travels and space mining” which is a current subject. This current subject was associated with the course outcomes, enabling students to transfer what they learned in the lessons to daily life.

In addition, students’ 21st-century skills such as “digital literacy, scientific creativity, research inquiry, teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving, communication and cooperation, creativity and innovation” were developed. Finally, with this activity, the students’ orientation towards the professions of the future (such as space mining, asteroid mining) was supported. Study activities are shared on the project blog page.

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