Engage Students With This Active Learning Lesson

She Maps Team
02 Sep 2019
Paul Mead teaching a kid how to send supplies to the Space Station using a drone

The astronauts on the International Space Station need our help. They’re short on supplies – food, letters from home and items for their experiments.

With our 3D printed Space Station design, a microdrone, some craft supplies and plenty of creativity, you’ll be on your way to creating the most popular learning activity at our drone camps.

Watch how it all comes together and then access the downloadable files below to get those astronauts the supplies that they need!

Downloadable 3D Print Files

In this Google Drive folder, you’ll find all of the files that you need to create the International Space Station, as well as instructions on how to put it all together! 

Right click to download each of the files for yourself. It’s fairly simple to put together and we recommend putting aside 1-2 hours to make it.

Get access to your International Space Station!

Active Learning Strategies

What is the main outcome we want students to learn?

With a real-world activity like this, we want students to focus on how they improve their use of STEM tools to reach a solution. We’re not getting them to fly for flying’s sake. It’s highly likely that when they first fly their microdrone to safely dock the supplies on the International Space Station, they won’t succeed. The learning outcome here is how they analyze what went wrong and create a new formula that works better. Teaching them this iterative process where failure isn’t the end is an essential skill for our students.

Challenges you might run into

Because this activity is fun and exciting, we haven’t found that there are too many challenges. Generally, students want to keep trying because it’s an activity with a sense of purpose.

Sometimes students do become a little dispirited or disengaged when they have to try again. One strategy is to have students specifically identify where their formula or solution starts to go wrong. The disengagement they’re feeling is often related to feeling a little overwhelmed by the task ahead. By honing in on something very small, we’re teaching them to reduce the burden of trying again and encouraging proper analysis of their problem-solving.

Sharing is caring

Sharing is an important STEM skill and it’s often where a lot of learning and breakthroughs take place. This activity is best done in small groups of students. Take 15 minutes at the end of the class to have a wrap-up discussion. This is where the groups reconvene and talk about how they approached the challenge, any issues they faced and findings that they had.

This is a great active learning strategy – it creates a learning environment in the classroom where it’s ok to talk about challenges. It creates a meaningful experience where students feel like what they’ve achieved is important. And it helps you, as a teacher, to figure out what the common threads are – particularly if there are any common misunderstandings.

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