Launchpad: Mission to the Moon curriculum
Through project-based, standards-aligned STEM activities, middle school students are transformed into a team of astronauts challenged to complete ten missions centered around a journey to the Moon. Student teams work through engineering design challenges, apply science concepts, develop 21st century learning skills, and learn STEM career and other real-world connections.
The Launchpad curriculum includes 10 individual lessons, or missions, that build from an introductory assignment of astronaut selection and training to establishing a base on the Moon, learning how to grow food, maintaining wellbeing, and collecting samples to bring home to Earth. Each mission lesson contains an engineering design challenge, science concepts, real-world examples and technology, a 21 century skill focus, and a STEM career connection to facilitate awareness, interest, and persistence in STEM pathways. Throughout the curriculum, NASA images are utilized as well as connections to NASA current events and technologies such as the Artemis mission. The educator guide provides details on how to support students through each of the mission activities.
In the companion student handouts for the Launchpad curriculum, each mission is introduced by a fictitious "Astronaut Alex" who provides the goal of the mission as well as the context within the Launchpad narrative, the STEM career involved within the mission and defines the 21st century skill required to be successful. This is printed on a handout for students to read along with pictures illustrating the STEM career and related NASA missions and technologies. Each handout includes a mission reflection prompt, science background, engineering design process, and links to relevant NASA resources and apps.