As we proceed into the future, space exploration is becoming an essential part of our own growth as humans. Space exploration requires innovative, creative, adaptable people to develop the technology necessary for these grand endeavors into new environments. Specifically, the first settlers on Mars will have to use technology developed on Earth in order to survive. On Mars, the gravity is approximately one third of Earth’s gravity; the average temperature is -81 degrees F, rather than 57 degrees F; and the atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, rather than nitrogen. One specific challenge will be communicating on this new planet. Light and sound waves will behave differently in this extraterrestrial environment, and those first settlers will have to adapt to these changes.
In this unit, students will participate in many hands-on labs to learn about the properties of light and sound. Students will act as astronauts who have traveled for months to arrive at Mars – but due to an unanticipated storm, did not land according to plan. Students will be challenged to engineer light and sound devices to signal Mars Base Camp to apply their knowledge of light and sound. The Mars Base Camp contains food, oxygen, and a rover, which will locate and retrieve the team of astronauts if signaled.
This unit focuses on both light and sound academic content standards; however, it is designed so that one concept can easily be covered without the other.