Force, Gravity, Revolution, and Rotation Lesson Plan: Fly to Mars Game

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-8, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the effects of force, gravity, revolution and rotation. Students will identify the environmental and circumstantial considerations of NASA scientists prior to launching spacecraft, and use a game-based simulation to determine when and how to launch a spacecraft into Mars.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Explore the effects of force, gravity, revolution and rotation.
  2. Identify the environmental and circumstantial considerations of NASA scientists prior to launching spacecraft.
  3. Use a game-based simulation to determine when and how to launch a spacecraft into Mars.

Materials:

  • Projector or interactive whiteboard
  • Internet access for BrainPOP

Vocabulary:

Martian; red planet; phobos and deimos; asteroid; canal; civilization; polar ice cap; sediment; gully

Preparation:

Explore this lesson plan, game, and movie topic page in advance to plan how you can adapt them for your students' needs.

The object of the Fly to Mars game is for students to watch the positions of Earth and Mars as they orbit the sun, and determine when it launch the spacecraft. You can find more resources by the developer of this game on the SciGames and Space Science Institute websites.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Project the Activity for the class to see. Discuss the facts about Mars and have students vote on whether they think each one is true or false.
  2. Play the Mars movie for the class with closed captioning on. Pause to discuss key points.
  3. Display the Final Frontier FYI. Talk with students about past expeditions to Mars. What factors do NASA scientists have to consider when determining when to launch spacecraft to Mars?
  4. Project the Fly to Mars game and go over the instructions with students. You may want to model a round of game play for them.
  5. Give students 10-15 minutes to explore the game, either individually or in partners.
  6. Talk with the class about the strategies they used in the game, and the connection between the simulation and real-life decision making on the part of NASA. Click the 'hint' button if your students need an additional explanation of how the launch works, and allow students to try the game again.

Extension Activity:

Explore the other movies and activities in our Space Unit to see how they can fit into your upcoming science instruction. You may also want to check out the other Science Games featured in GameUp.