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Applying the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Concepts to Virginia’s Third Grade Mathematics Standards: Traveling to the Moon

Team Members:
Tiwana Walton
Patrina Bly

Dr. Darnell Johnson

Digital Learning Network, ratio, proportions, mathematical concepts, numerical operations

The primary focus of this research was to develop a new National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Digital Learning Network (DLN) module that was mathematically based and tied to NASA concepts. This world of interactive learning with NASA’s DLN was available to teachers and students to enhance learning about our home planet.

Objectives of this module applied Grade Six Mathematics Standards of ratio and proportions, scaling, area, and volume to NASA’s space vehicle transportation systems that will return to the moon by 2020. The module educated grade six students on how America will send a new generation of explorers to the moon aboard NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle.

The mathematics team reviewed results of faculty and student research projects to identify sources used in the mathematics preparation of children at the sixth grade level. Educational lessons were produced that incorporated mathematical concepts from the data collected. Thus, this project was designed to build on the curiosity and enthusiasm of children as it relates to the study of mathematics. Appropriate mathematical experiences were designed to challenge young children to explore ideas related to data analysis and probability, measurement, mathematical connections, algebraic concepts, and numerical operations.

The success of this research produced results that allowed six grade students to experience learning linked to NASA exploration in future years. The students also used age-appropriate mathematical calculations to fully understand related processes. Participants in this newly-developed DLN activity aided NASA in calculating the surface areas, obtaining measurements of models, and using proportions to discover how and why NASA scientists have constructed the Orion, Ares I, and Ares V vehicles.