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Terror in Space

Ideas from Teachers


(Gr. 6-8)
I used the above activity with a few minor adjustments. I expanded the area to half the size of a football field. The probe and the docking collar with their respective "experts" were sent to diametrically opposing sides. Once blindfolded, the probe and the docking collar were told to spin until they became dizzy. We ran two trials. In the first trial, the docking collar could not change position. He/she could only move the docking collar up or down or left or right as per instructions and the probe had to maneuver to him/her. In the second trial, both the probe and the docking collar were able to move toward each other as per their experts' instructions. We then compared levels of difficulty. The kids loved it. As an added bonus, I think they learned something about manual docking, too.

Sent in by
Catherine Atria
Oak View Middle School
Newberry, FL


(Gr. 8)
This activity could be used with NOVA's "Terror in Space" program. I use the following recipe to introduce the idea that space food is probably something that doesn't need to be cooked or put together and needs to be simple and nutritious.

This is something that can be done simply either at school (if you have only one or two classes and have access to an oven) or you can give the kids the recipe so they can do it at home. Of course, it would help to pique their interest if some was made before hand and brought in...

Fruit Roll Up: Use apples, peaches, pears, or nectarines to make this yummy dried "candy." The fruit can be the "to-hard-to-eat" variety or the "to-ripe-and-the-last-piece" variety. It even works on canned fruit which is well drained. Use mashed or pureed fruit. Two methods work well.

FIRST is the blender way: Peel and core fruit, blend till smooth, then cook 5 minutes in a saucepan over moderate heat.

SECOND is the freeze-defrost method: In advance, peel and core fruit and place it wrapped in the freezer. Remove from freezer an hour before using so it can start to defrost. Cook in a saucepan, mashing with fork as you go. Cook for 5-10 minutes. If very watery, drain. While cooking add 1 tsp. of honey for each piece of fruit you are using. (Cook different fruits separately, though you can cook 1 piece or a dozen of the same type at one time.) I usually just add a good dollop of honey to the saucepan as it's cooking.

Lay out clear plastic wrap (or cut open small plastic bags) on a cookie sheet or broiling tray. Use one piece for each piece of fruit you have cooked. Spoon mixture onto the wrap staying away from edge. Spread as thin as possible. If you spread another piece of plastic wrap over the mixture and press down with a wide spatula, it helps to make it evenly thin. Be sure to remove this top sheet of plastic before drying.

Place your tray in the over (at night, we suggest) which is turned on to its lowest setting or with just the pilot light on. Leave overnight (6-8 hours). I usually put it in the oven at about 200 degrees and keep checking it for about 2 hours. Just until if dries out. Since it takes 2 hours to make, you might want to give the kids the recipe and let them make it at home.

The plastic wrap will not melt. If it is dry by breakfast, remove from oven and roll up the plastic wrap as if it were a jelly roll.

I've done this with frozen strawberries and blueberries; it is really good.

(Recipe from Feed Me! I'm Yours by Vicki Lansky. Minnesota: Meadowbrook Press, 1974.)

Sent in by
Laura Fleet
Landrum Middle School
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL


(Gr. 8)
Editor's note: See Teacher feedback on this idea below.

I was able to use segments of NOVA's "Terror in Space" program in my physical science classes to enrich our lessons about forces and motion.

I devised a very simple game to reinforce the concepts of velocity, acceleration and remote piloting (sort of like docking the cargo ship to Mir). Each group of four students was given a 10 meter x 10 meter square of the courtyard (grassy area outside) to operate in. We marked off the areas using non-toxic spray paint (the kind Miss Utility or NO CUTS uses). Within each group, one student was given an empty one liter soda bottle (the probe), one was given an 8-ounce plastic Dixie cup (the docking collar), one student was given the job of Mir pilot, the other student was given the job of docking specialist. The students holding the probe and the cup were blindfolded.

The "pilot" could communicate with, but not touch, the student "probe". The "docking specialist" could communicate with, but not touch, the student "docking collar". All four students are allowed to move anywhere they want to within the 100-meter square area. The object, of course, is for the "probe" to connect with the "collar" within three minutes.

After the first round, I opened a discussion about velocities, acceleration and the difficulties of remote piloting. When the discussion concluded, I asked the students to change roles and try again, to see if it was easier. After the second session, we again opened the discussion. As a result of this activity, more students were able to differentiate between velocity and acceleration, and they all got a very good appreciation for remote piloting.

Sent in by
Wayne French
Lindsay Middle School
Hampton, VA


(Gr. 8)
NOVA's "Terror in Space" program was fascinating to me, and although I knew the outcome of the situations involved, it was very insightful to hear the eyewitness—"I've lived it"—accounts. The contrast between the United States and Russia in their attitudes and procedures, etc., was also quite revealing. The questions of how long to maintain a space vehicle and its technology once up in space can lead to some interesting discussions, as well as the idea of how to finance the entire program. The Russian cosmonaut evaluation/pay system could also lead to some very interesting debates on the upper levels in government and economics classes.

The printable activity, Controlling the Cube, also looks very interesting and seems to be a good way to get across the concept of motion in space, center of gravity, and the connections between them.

Sent in by
Nancy Nega
Churchville Junior High School
Elmhurst, IL


(Gr. 10-12)
NOVA's "Terror in Space" program presents a compelling story about hazards of space. I will use this to talk about pressure, combustion and forces (balanced and unbalanced).

There are also a few take-home messages in here about knowing your job well enough to function automatically in an emergency. Knowing more than the minimum and being able to think on your feet. I will work that into a lab safety this year.

I would like to see if kids have some science fiction videos (besides Apollo 12) that have some sort of accident in them. That would help compare the real to the fictional accounts. I am certain there are some out there. The older science fiction stuff will be especially helpful.

The social studies teacher will love this for a comparison of the cultural expectations of a worker in the former Soviet Republics vs. Americans. The idea of what to tell who when is really informative as a comparison of the two systems.

Sent in by
Shannon C'de Baca
Thomas Jefferson High School
Council Bluffs, IA


(Graduate Space or Engineering)
I plan on having a copy of NOVA's "Terror in Space" program viewed in my Space Systems Integration class and having my students discuss issues related to the accident:

  • What changes in Space Station/Craft commanding (procedures/policies) should be revisited?

  • When we have the International Space Station Operational, who (which country) should be in charge of logisitic and resupply activities? Why?

  • What safety features should be included in the logistics—resupply process?

  • What new ideas do (my) students have related to improving the safety aspects of Space Station Operations.

Sent in by
William Hoffman
Webster University


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Terror in Space
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