Mark Wagner, Ph.D.
Moon Village School Design Challenge
Updated: Mar 8
There are many great student design challenges that tap into student excitement about space... from designing astronaut socks for the ISS to packing for a trip to Neptune (or another planet). The Moon Village School Design Challenge below is a potentially big project, but can be adjusted to any grade level and degree of complexity.
Inspired by Professor John Mankins, Space Solar Power expert, our co-founder, Dr. Mark Wagner wrote several papers about what a Moon Village School might look like. (These can be found in the book Space Education: Preparing Students for Humanity's Multi-Planet Future from Multiverse Publishing). Now, you can present the same design challenge to your students, encouraging meaningful cross-disciplinary learning... which might range from geology and physics to sociology and history... not to mention education technology and learning space design. This means there's also great potential for standards alignment across the traditional curriculum.
Here is the prompt:
The Moon Village Association is planning the first settlement on the Moon. They have chosen Shackleton Crater at the South Pole of the moon as the ideal location. Mountain peaks on the rim have year-round sunlight for solar power, the permanent shadows deep in the crater harbor water ice, and the Earth is always visible low on the horizon. The plan calls for a multigenerational permanent settlement for 125 people, with about 25 of them being under 18. Children will grow up there, and they will need an education.
How would you design a school for this environment?
Consider environmental factors such as the low gravity, lack of atmosphere, and abrasive moon dust. Don’t forget technical issues like the communication delay to Earth, Internet bandwidth, and the need for cloud computing resources. Be sure to include psychological and social factors too: who will teach the students, what will their schedule be, and how will they deal with the dangerous isolation?
What other challenges will the settlers face that might affect the school?
What elements will be most important in your design?
Illustrate your solution by creating a model using materials in your classroom, or digital tools such as drawing software or 3D modeling. Present your design to the class, emphasizing key design elements and inviting feedback.
Naturally, this is also a great opportunity to introduce students to Design Thinking, or give them an opportunity to put their skills into practice. Astra Inclinant!
Learn more about the ARES Learning approach in the book Space Education: Preparing Students for Humanity's Multi-Planet Future by our co-founder Dr. Mark Wagner, and explore a complete Space Education Curriculum developed for high schools - it's a free and open education resource available to students, teachers, and enthusiasts everywhere.
Educators, sign up for online professional development based on the book and curriculum. And be sure to register for the FREE online Space Education Summit on April 21, 2023.
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