Ready-to-Go Resources
Space Science: Adventure Is Waiting
Space Science: Adventure Is Waiting home
Lesson Plan: Asteroid Resources: The Stepping Stone to Beyond
About This Lesson
In teams, students will research and document some of the requirements for mounting an expedition to an asteroid.
Students will:
• Actively explore the potential resources available to space travelers through research, assessment, team cooperation, and exploration simulations.
• Develop the background to make the connection between meteorite research and potential planetary resources.

Connect Your Classroom Through NASA’s Digital Learning Network. On November 16, 2005,  author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg and a NASA scientist will be participating in three Digital Learning Network events with NASA Explorer School sites as hosted by NASA Langley Research Center. For more information, click here.
Exploration Proposal
About This Activity
This is a group-participation simulation based on the premise that water and other resources from the asteroid belt are required for deep space exploration. The class will brainstorm or investigate to identify useful resources, including water, that might be found on an asteroid. Teams of students are asked to take responsibility for planning various aspects of an asteroid prospecting expedition, and to present the results of their planning.

The students should learn that a large project requires the cooperation of many different teams, considering many ideas and needs. They could focus on the simplest aspects of vehicle design, hardware, and personnel, as well as more complicated issues such as financing for the mission, criteria for crew selection, Earth support teams, training, and maintenance, etc.

Students will:
• Plan an expedition or other large engineering project.
• Investigate options in many aspects of space flight.
• Present their options, reasoning, and recommendations to the group.
Time: Sometime in the next century
Place: Earth

• Resource materials about: space travel, space resources, asteroids, rockets, space shuttle, spacecraft
• Personal log (journal)
• Art supplies
• Reproducibles 1–4.
Lesson Background (PDF), Name Those Asteroids! (PDF), Lesson Scenario (PDF), Brainstorm (PDF).

Advance Preparation
1. Read background material.
2. Assemble research materials or know where students may
find them.
3. Copy and distribute Reproducibles as needed.

Classroom Procedure
1. Present Reproducible 1, Lesson Background (PDF), so that students may familiarize themselves with basic information. Reproducible 2, Name Those Asteroids! (PDF) can be distributed to reinforce information on asteroids and other small bodies in space.
2. Present Reproducible 3, Lesson Scenario (PDF), and then brainstorm about what facts about asteroids might be needed to prepare for a mission that would prospect for water, oxygen, or metals.
3. Brainstorm the important components that must be designed or built to mount a prospecting expedition to an asteroid. Topics to be addressed may include: propulsion (type of rocket), power, life support, communications, financing (including valuable things that could be mined on an asteroid and returned to Earth), crew selection (including human vs. robotic), ground support, vehicle design, maintenance, prospecting tools, and training.
4. Each team selects a topic from those suggested—all members of the team should reach consensus.
5. Teams will research and document their topics, keeping a log of sources investigated, relevant data found, relevant conversations, meetings, etc. The research should include a “major points” outline, visual aids, references used, and list of possible problems to be resolved through research. Teams should also list “interfaces” with other aspects of the expedition design (e.g., the electrical power team needs to know how large the crew is, how the life-support system runs, and whether the prospecting tools require electricity).
6. Team results should include the basic questions or trade-offs for their part of the prospecting expedition, advantages and disadvantages for each option (e.g., power from solar cells versus power from a nuclear reactor), and a recommendation of which option is best for the expedition. Groups should present their results to the class.
7. Once presentations are complete, distribute Reproducible 4, Brainstorm (PDF), to get students thinking about space exploration.

Teaching with the Poster

There are all kinds of objects that orbit the Earth, the Sun, and other planets. Could a house launch into orbit, as the poster depicts? Could it travel through space? Show students the poster, and encourage them to come up with questions the image raises. (How much force is required to lift a house that far into space? How fast would the house need to be traveling, and in what direction? What would prevent the house from burning up in our atmosphere?)

While you discuss these questions, keep track of science topics raised in the discussion. Keep a list on the board. Areas of interest might include: acceleration, satellite, meteor, asteroid, orbit, gravity, jet propulsion, and velocity.

Students can then visit to conduct research and explore their questions.

Additional Teacher Resources

Visit and use the search function on the main page to access additional teacher resources that provide the latest information on the science of space. Resources found on can be used to provide students with a subject background before proceeding with the lesson, to amplify students’ knowledge of specific topics, or to supplement the lesson as you progress through it.

Visit for a language arts lesson plan based on Zathura, plus links to other lesson plans on books by Chris Van Allsburg. 
Photo Credits: ZATHURA: The Movie © 2005 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© 2005 Columbia Tristar Marketing Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader® software, version 4.0 or higher to view and print items marked PDF.
Get Adobe Reader
for FREE

Student Sweepstakes! Great Prizes! Family Trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida! Classroom Plasma TV, DVD Player, Classroom Space Science Books & T-shirts. Teachers: Your students can win great prizes for themselves and your classroom. Distribute this entry form (PDF} to get started and for sweepstakes details. Students can send in their own entries or you can mail them in. Sweepstakes deadline: November 23, 2005. Official Rules (PDF)
Coming to theaters this November, ZATHURA. Visit the official movie website and click The Movie to arrange a class trip to experience the adventure of this new film.

This program has been generously sponsored by
 Columbia Pictures

Developed in cooperation with NASA

The children's book Zathura, by Chris Van Allsburg, is published by Houghton Mifflin