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Connected Science Technology Engineering Art and Math


I’ve been talking about CSTEAM for the past three/four days. The concept is to create a connected environment to build and share STEAM focused education topics. Beyond just sharing the topics however it is also a place to create broad connected STEAM lessons. As a resource for those educating but also as a place to share the results.

One of my favorite STEAM lessons is the packing for Mars lesson. First off NASA has a great page devoted to the idea of what personal items would you pack for Mars. It is after all a long trip.

There are a number of cross discipline problems to consider that bring in more than the traditional STEAM lessons. First off you have to build a psychological profile of the astronauts. Not everyone can stay in a small space for a year. So you have to consider the personality and type of person.

From an engineering perspective you have to consider the layout of the ship so that it optimizes space and yet still allows people to move about and exercise. The craft needs to be effective and yet have space for the number of astronauts you are sending. You can’t send one person, you can’t send two so engineer for a team of 5 or more.

The technology team has to consider a number of problems. How much Oxygen does a human need in a year and how do you keep that oxygen fresh. You have to do something to get rid of CO2 and you can’t make the spaceship into a massive air tank – you are simply one stray asteroid away from a collection of dead astronauts. You have to be able to recycle the atmosphere and water of the craft. You also need to include technology that will allow for entertainment.

Our math is before we launch the ship and every day it is flying towards Mars. We have to adjust not only for the gravity of the earth and moon but for anything else including the sun. So the craft will be making course adjustments weekly or potentially more often. The math for that has to be calculated – we can do some of that on board but some will be done on earth.

Art now presents an interesting question. The first part is art appreciation, going back to the psychological profile what art calms the astronauts, what makes them happy. Can we use music as a mood inducer? What are the artistic tendencies of the actual astronauts. Can we create a system of expression that allows them to express what they are seeing and feeling? From a pre-launch perspective what would a craft designed to support human life for two – three years look like?

Finally from a science perspective (I realize this isn’t in order) what experiments can you do along the way to Mars. What experiments can you do around propulsion in space? What materials can you use to build this wonderful craft. What can you do with excess CO2? The list of things to consider are endless. What happens to plants that grow in space that isn’t in the gravity fields of the earth and moon? You can design so many experiments for before the launch and after it is amazing.

Then you use the CSTEAM system to share what you group design and discovered. Using the CSTEAM system to get the lesson plans, create your own or use as is and then once done share your results and modifications with the rest of the community.



Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.