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How to
Use the Activities


Inquiry Question

Historical Context




Table of

Putting It All Together

The following activities will help students apply what they have learned about the cooperative work that went into the successful Apollo 11 mission.

Activity 1: Unexpected Benefits from Space Research
Explain to students that 2002 marks the 40th anniversary of the Technology Utilization Program. Under this program, NASA and scores of independent entrepreneurs have joined forces to produce tens of thousands of new products and processes using technologies originally developed for the space program. Ask students to refer to the NASA web site to identify some of these "spin-offs." Ask students to identify products developed as a result of the space program that they use in their daily life. Ask them to consider why NASA might have established the Technology Utilization Program. What other scientific benefits have grown out of the program? Hold a class discussion about how you would measure the success of the Apollo program and whether it was worth the many millions of dollars invested in it.

Activity 2: A Mission to Mars?
Explain to students that in 1989, during the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight, President George Bush asserted: "Before the 50th anniversary of our first landing on the Moon, the American flag should be planted on Mars!" If this goal is to be met, humans will be landing on Mars by 2019.

Divide students into groups of four or five, with each group using all they have learned about the Apollo 11 mission to make a list of what would be needed to plan a mission to Mars. Some topics to consider might include: research on Mars and space travel, design and manufacture of rockets, selection and training of astronauts, and life support and rescue.

Remind them that a Mars mission will be much more complicated than a trip to the Moon and back. It takes about three days to get to the Moon, but six months to a year will be needed to get to Mars. Radio signals make the round trip between the Earth and the Moon in 2.6 seconds, but it will take up to 41 minutes to exchange messages between the Earth and Mars. Astronauts on Mars will probably have to bring all of their own shelter, food, water, and breathable air with them.

There have already been many visits to explore the red planet, both from orbiting space crafts and from roving vehicles on the surface. Some students may want to study these missions and report back to the class about what they have revealed about conditions on Mars.

When the groups have completed their lists, have them combine their answers and then discuss the complexity and expense involved in developing a manned mission to Mars. Do they think the achievement would be worth the cost in money and the risk to human life? Would they like to be involved? Why or why not?

Activity 3: What Price History?
Tell the students that NASA signed a contract to demolish the launch tower shown on the right side of the Saturn V rocket in Photo 2 in 1983, so that they could modify the launch pad for the space shuttle. The demolition contractor was planning to sell the steel for scrap. Some people wanted the tower preserved for reassembly because of its association with the Apollo 11 flight, even though it was only 20 years old. NASA opposed preserving the tower because of its cost, which might reach $4 million. In an article titled "What Price History?", published on March 13, 1983, in the Orlando Sentinel, Charlie Jean wrote that the tower...

is the Rembrandt's easel of the space age. It was the last Earthly foothold for Neil Armstrong, Ed Aldrin and Mike Collins before they thundered off to the Moon. It pointed the way for the Skylab astronauts, for the Apollo-Soyuz voyagers, and for fliers of less renowned missions in the Magellan age of space.

Ask the students to discuss the following questions: What are the arguments for preserving the Apollo launch tower? What are the arguments for dismantling it? What makes a place historic? Ask them whether they think the age of a place has anything to do with people's willingness to see it as historic. Why or why not? Ask them whether they think equipment like this should be preserved or modified for future space flights, saving millions of dollars? If they are preserved, who should pay the cost of preserving them?

Divide students into groups and have each group try to find a "place" (a building, a transportation system, a park or other natural area, etc.) in their community that is associated with an important event that has occurred in their or their parents' lifetimes. Ask each group to share what information they have gathered, and then have the class as a whole decide if any or all of the "places" should be considered "historic" and, if so, should they be preserved and/or interpreted for future generations.

Following the discussion you might want to tell the students that the launch tower was eventually dismantled and stored. Parts of it have been re-erected as part of an interpretive exhibit at the Apollo/Saturn V Center on the grounds of the Kennedy Space Center. Ask the students whether they think this was an appropriate way to deal with the tower.



Comments or Questions

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