Earth Science: Geology, the Environment, and the Universe
WebQuest Projects 1
A Message from the International Space Station
Right now, a “city in space” orbits high above Earth. It is populated
by people from a variety of cultures and nationalities. Yet, like people in
cities all over the world, these residents work, prepare and enjoy meals, read
books, and dream. They speak different languages, come from different backgrounds,
and have diverse scientific and personal interests. Yet, in what some have called
a great “human experiment”, they have enthusiastically agreed to
be separated from their families for months at a time to live, work, and play
in this unique world. This unusual “city” is the International Space
Station, and it has orbited Earth at a distance of 250 miles since 2000. A model
of collaboration on a global scale, sixteen nations play an active role in the
construction, maintenance, and vision of this unique endeavor.
The International Space Station is designed to give engineers and scientists
the ability to perform complex experiments on an unprecedented time scale and
unique platform – the zero gravity environment of space. Experimentation
in zero gravity, also called microgravity, can reveal processes that are obscured
when they take place on Earth. Visionaries also see the potential of the Space
Station as a launch pad for future, further space exploration. Crew members,
who commit to three to seven-month stays aboard the station, are busy professionals
with jobs to do. What kind of research do they conduct? How do they focus on
work, while also fulfilling personal needs like exercise, nutrition, and recreation?
This WebQuest will help you explore these questions and others to learn about
life aboard the International Space Station.
In this WebQuest, you will assume the role of an astronaut living and working
on the International Space Station. Your first task is to become familiar with
the types of activities that take place in an average day aboard the station.
In addition to examining some of the research projects underway, you will learn
how astronauts deal with the unique challenges posed by living in a confined,
microgravity environment. Answering a series of questions will help you understand
what life is like within this unique setting. Based on your research, your second
task is to create a multimedia “letter” to send to your family on
Earth. The purpose of this message is to show your family what a typical day
is like on the International Space Station.
The Web sites given here will help you answer questions about the International
Space Station. The information you gather will help you create a multimedia
presentation showing daily activities aboard the station.
Visit this site to learn what daily life is like on the International Space
Station, including what crew members wear and eat, how they rest and exercise,
and how they keep themselves and the facility clean. This site describes the
purpose and components of the station. You can also take a virtual tour of the
Space Station from this site.
This site describes important factors taken into account when designing the
International Space Station, gives descriptions of how various parts of the
station function, and details what it is like to sleep, bathe, eat, exercise,
and work aboard the station.
This site outlines the history of the International Space Station, and the role
other countries are playing in its development. Learn about the types of research
underway or planned, and see how the station’s unique vantage point offers
opportunities to study Earth processes in new ways.
NASA offers this site to share the latest information about the International
Space Station, the space shuttle program, and other space news.
Visit this site to learn how astronauts prepare for space travel. The site also
investigates how crew members live, work, and travel in space.
Step inside the Space Station for a virtual tour. This site offers 360-degree
view pictures that help you take a look around four of the stations sections,
This interactive site lets you manipulate the Space Station, learn about the
individual components that make it up, and take a virtual “spacewalk”
to get a human perspective on the station.
This site offers current news related to events on the International Space Station.
Visit this site for information and links about all upcoming space launches.
This site offers amazing photographs from NASA’s space explorations.
1-2 weeks to answer the set of questions and develop the multimedia presentation
Read the following series of questions before beginning your research. As you
explore each Web site, look for answers to the questions.
Questions about the International Space Station
- Designing a structure which is not connected to Earth and its natural processes
requires engineers to consider an array of factors. For example, the Space
Station environment must support life and protect from hazards, and it must
have the capability to communicate with Earth. Describe some factors engineers
considered when designing the International Space Station.
- The International Space Station provides a unique vantage point for continual
study of the Earth. What Earth events and processes do astronauts investigate
- Living in a microgravity environment stresses the human body. A variety
of research projects attempt to quantify the effects of living under these
conditions for extended periods. Describe specific research projects being
conducted by astronauts which address the effect of various Space Station
conditions on human body function.
- Why are efficient sanitation methods crucial on the International Space
Station? Describe some measures taken by crew members to keep the facility
- Daily activities like bathing, sleeping, and exercising are conducted differently
under zero-gravity conditions. Describe how astronauts go about these routine,
but necessary, affairs.
- What do crew members aboard the International Space Station do in their
- Astronauts on the Space Station choose and prepare their own meals. What
might a crew member eat during a typical lunch or dinner? Note any interesting
differences between preparing or eating food on the station versus preparing
or eating food on Earth.
Next, visit the Web sites listed. Use the information from your research to
answers to the questions. As you study the sites, look for ideas you can use
to create a
multimedia presentation describing daily life aboard the Space Station.
Finally, create a “letter” to send to your family back on Earth
which describes your life as a crew member of the International Space Station.
Your “message” will take
the form of a multimedia presentation. Platforms may include PowerPoint, a slide
or some other medium approved by your teacher. As you think about the information
your message will include, remember that your family will be interested in issues
like the following:
- What does the interior of the Space Station look like? Where do you eat,
sleep, work, and exercise?
- What kinds of research projects are you conducting?
- What is the food like on the Space Station? Is there anything unusual about
the way you have to prepare, eat, or clean up your meals?
- How do you keep yourself clean on a daily basis? Is there anything special
about the clothes you have to wear while working inside or outside of the
- Is it possible to get any exercise in such a confined area? If so, what
kind of physical activities do you do?
- How do you occupy your leisure time?
Include diagrams, photographs, and interesting information in your presentation.
Use a friendly, informal writing style. Remember, this is a letter to your family,
and they are interested in learning how you spend a typical day.
While completing this WebQuest, you have learned about the purpose and characteristics
of the International Space Station. You have gathered information to answer
questions about research projects taking place, the effects microgravity have
on the human body, and what daily life is like aboard the station. You have
analyzed information about how crew members function in this environment, and
used creativity and writing skills to create a presentation demonstrating how
astronauts spend a typical day in space. Your research will help others understand
the challenges and opportunities inherent in this unique setting.