Lesson Plan

America's Space Program: Exploring a New Frontier - A Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plan

Mission Control Center, Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center), July 1969.
Mission Control Center, Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center), July 1969.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

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Grade Level:
Fifth Grade-Twelfth Grade
Subject:
History, Science and Technology, Science History, Space Science
Duration:
Variable. Adaptable to teacher and student needs.
Group Size:
Up to 36
Setting:
indoors or outdoors
National/State Standards:
Relevant U.S. History Standards for Grades 5-12: Era 9 - Postwar United States (1945-early 1970s) Standards 1C and 2A
Keywords:
lesson plan, Teaching with Historic Places, Americas Space Program, Space Program, Cold War, Science and Technology, Apollo Project, Saturn V, Kennedy Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, Space Race, Man on the Moon, Apollo 11, U.S. Astronauts, Apollo Moon Landing

Overview

Using Cape Canaveral and the John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. John and George Marshall space centers, students will trace the journey of Americans to the moon using maps, illustrations, photographs and readings. The lesson plan uses materials from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and encourages students to be the historians.

Objective(s)

  1. To identify the events that led to the U.S. decision to send a man to the Moon.
  2. To examine some of the work necessary to make the Apollo project possible.
  3. To describe how widely separated space centers cooperated on the Apollo project.
  4. To evaluate arguments for preserving historic sites relating to the space program
  5. To discuss comparable debates about preserving places in their own communities that are associated with recent history.




Background

Information on how to use a Teaching with Historic Places lesson plan can be found here.

Historical context for the lesson plan topic can be found in the lesson's Setting the Stage section.  



Materials

  1. Two maps showing locations important to the U.S. space program;
  2. Three readings about the Apollo project and its impact;
  3. One illustration showing the Mission Control Center in Houston;
  4. Five photographs of the Apollo project and the first manned landing on the Moon.




Procedure

America's Space Program: Exploring a New Frontier

Each Teaching with Historic Places lesson plan contains the following teaching activities: Getting Started (inquiry question), Setting the Stage (historical background), Locating the Site (maps), Determining the Facts (readings, documents, charts), Visual Evidence (photographs and other graphic documents), and Putting It All Together (activities). See Parts 2-7 for information about how to use these resources.

Click here to go directly to the lesson plan.

Getting Started

Begin this lesson by asking students to discuss possible answers to the inquiry question that accompanies the "Getting Started" image. Provide them with paper print-outs of the image and question, or direct them to the lesson plan website. To facilitate a whole class discussion, you may want to print or scan the image to make an overhead transparency or digital slide. The purpose of this exercise is to engage students' interest in the lesson's topic by raising questions that can be answered as they complete the lesson.

Rather than serving merely as an illustration for the text, the image is a document that plays an integral role in helping students achieve the lesson's objective. To assist students in learning how to "read" visual materials you may want to begin this section by having them complete the Photo Analysis Worksheet for one or more of the photos. The worksheet is appropriate for analyzing both historical and recent photographs and will help students develop a valuable skill.

Getting Started section for this lesson

Setting the Stage

This section is intended to be used, if necessary, as background material. Read this material aloud to students or summarize it, or provide them with paper print-outs, or direct them to the lesson plan website. If students have computers, you can direct them to the page on the website.

Setting the Stage section for this lesson

Locating the Site

Provide students with the maps and questions included in Locating the Site. You can give them paper print-outs or direct them to the lesson plan website. Have students work individually or in small groups to complete the questions. At least one map familiarizes the students with the historic site's location within the country, state or region. Extended captions may be included to provide students with information necessary to answer the questions.

Locating the Site section in this lesson

Determining the Facts

Provide students with copies of the readings, documents and/or charts included in this section or direct them to the lesson plan website. Allow students to work individually or in small groups. The series of questions that accompanies each of these readings is designed to ensure that students have gathered the appropriate facts from the material.

Determining the Facts section for this lesson

Visual Evidence: Images

Distribute the lesson's visual materials among students. Provide them with paper print-outs, or direct them to the lesson plan website. Have the students examine the photographs and answer the related questions. Note that two or more images may be studied together in order to complete the questions. Extended captions may be included to provide students with important information.

Rather than serving merely as illustrations for the text, the images are documents that play an integral role in helping students achieve the lesson's objectives. To assist students in learning how to "read" visual materials, you may want to begin this section by having them complete the Photo Analysis Worksheet for one or more of the photos.

Visual Evidence: Images section for this lesson

Putting It All Together

After students have completed the questions that accompany the maps, readings and visuals, they should be directed to complete one or more of the activities presented below. These activities engage students in a variety of creative exercises that help them synthesize the information they have learned and formulate conclusions. At least one activity leads students to look for places in their community that relate to the topic of the lesson. In this way students learn to make connections between their community and the broader themes of American history they encounter in their studies.

Putting It All Together section for this lesson

Assessment

Assessment is built into the lesson plan in the form of questions for all documents, including maps and images, and in the student products completed for Step 7, Putting it All Together.



Additional Resources

Students and educators who want to know more can find sources for information (with links) here: Supplementary Resources.