NASA's Maths and Science @ Work

NASA's Maths and Science @ Work

NASA's Math and Science @ Work project offers challenging supplemental problems based on space exploration topics. This project engages students by providing real-world applications to promote critical thinking and problem-solving while exposing students to careers in space exploration. These problems help provide students with insight into the limitless array of options in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields. Problems are available for calculus, physics, biology and chemistry.

Visit the Math and Science @ Work website at www.nasa.gov/education/mathandscience or follow the links below.

Space Shuttle Auxiliary Power Units

This problem focuses on the MMACS flight controller. Students learn about one of his/her duties in monitoring the Auxiliary Power Units of the space shuttle. Students will apply various calculus concepts including an application of related rates. The focus is on interpretation of the derivative as a rate of change.

Space Shuttle Guidance, Navigation, and Control Data

This problem focuses on the GNC flight controller. Students learn about the state vector that the GNC flight controller monitors and is introduced to the coordinate system that is used in tracking the space shuttle. Students will analyze a table of data to generate parametric functions.

Next Generation Spacecraft

In this real world application, students will use integration to find the volume of the Orion Crew Module - NASA's newest spacecraft.

Space Shuttle Ascent

Students will utilize graphing calculators to make applications of differentiation to the mission data of a space shuttle ascent phase.

The Lunar Lander - Ascending from the Moon

In this exploration activity, students will use the application of differentiation – related rates, to solve problems pertaining to the ascent portion of the Lunar Lander.

Lunar Surface Communications

Future outposts on the Moon will require lunar surface equipment to maintain communications with Earth. Students will use differentiation - chain rule to derive a solution to this space exploration problem.

Physics

Space Shuttle Landing

This problem focuses on the MMACS flight controller, who monitors the data associated with the landing and deceleration procedures of the space shuttle. Students will apply equations of motion, force, work and energy and graphically interpret real data.

Space Shuttle Short Circuit

This problem focuses on the EGIL flight controller, who monitors the electrical systems, fuel cells and associated cryogenics of NASA's space shuttle. Using a circuit layout from the space shuttle, students will apply Ohm's law to solve for unknowns.

Lunar Surface Instrumentation

On the lunar surface, environmental sensors and instruments will need to be placed within proximity of a lunar outpost. Students will work with vector addition to find an answer to this space exploration problem.

Lunar Surface Instrumentation: Part II

Students will analyze two different approaches for completing a task based on a number of constraints and will determine the optimal method. Students will apply vector addition, as well as critical thinking skills.

Lunar Landing

Students will apply equations of motion and force to solve for unknowns in this real world application about human exploration missions to the Moon.

Weightless Wonder - Reduced Gravity Flights

Students will learn about the parabolic flights of NASA's C9 jet - the Weightless Wonder, as they use equations of motion to derive a solution to a real life problem.

Biology

Respiration in Space Flight

This problem focuses on the EECOM flight controller, who monitors the gas concentrations and pressures with the space shuttle cabin. Students are introduced to the space shuttle's CO2 removal process and will analyze respiration rates and metabolic activity from graphical data provided. They will relate gas production/consumption to respiration/metabolism and evaluate the physiological impact of changes in O2/CO2 concentrations to various human systems.

Chemistry

Space Shuttle Propulsion System

This problem focuses on the PROP flight controller and his/her duties in monitoring the propellant for the RCS and OMS engines of the space shuttle. Students will identify the geometric structure, hybridization, and bonding of molecules and evaluate characteristics of reactions to determine the behavior.