NASA Missions

Investigating NASA Space Missions

Grade: 6-8

Subject Integrated: Science, Social Studies

In this lesson, students will learn about different NASA space missions: what, who, when, where, why, how, results, now.

Students will be able to design a model or construct a presentation that explores one of NASA’s space missions in its historical context.


  • Any materials student would like to use to construct their model
  • Computers for research
  • PowerPoint for presentations

Learning Activities:

    a) Instructional Materials and Resources

    b) Procedure
    • Teacher asks the class if they have heard of any NASA missions/what they did.
    • Teacher will write each of the missions the students have heard of on the board.
    • Teacher should have previous knowledge on NASA and NASA’s missions (research websites listed below prior to teaching lesson). It’s okay for the teacher to admit that he/she isn’t sure about a particular mission—the classroom is a learning community, the teacher being an active learner along with everyone else.
    • Students are given time to turn to a neighbour and talk about NASA and the missions.
    • Teacher will re-ask the questions about NASA and the missions.
    • Students will be given an opportunity to research on chromebooks or computers to see what they can discover.
    • After 15 minutes of researching, students are to choose to work in partners or choose to work alone and begin claiming different NASA missions.
    • To reduce competitiveness and increase a breadth of learning, students should not choose the same mission, unless they are working together.
    • Students are responsible for the Who, What, Where, Why (including historical context), When, How, Results, and Today to be answered.
    • Students can choose to do a write up, slideshow, create a model, or find another teacher sanctioned method of demonstrating what they learned about the mission.

c) Instructional Groups
  • Lesson will be taught to the class as a whole with small group instruction as

d) Discussion
  • What is NASA?
  • What does NASA stand for?
  • What are some of NASA’s missions of the past?
  • What are some of NASA’s current missions?
  • Did any NASA missions have a historic context of why it happened?

e) Assessment
  • Formative assessment will be used when students are collecting information about their mission.
  • Teacher will guide students to plausible answers if they are having trouble.
  • Teacher will take notes on students with trouble with the skills for further assistance.
  • The teacher will assess the students’ based on their completion of the assignment and participation in the discussion.
  • Optional: Rubrics can be made to score the writing portion of the activity – summative assessment.


    a) Ending the Lesson
    • Students will present their PowerPoints, models, or other demonstrations of learning.
    • Students are to include what, who, when, where, results, today about their NASA missions.

    b) Evaluating and Reflection of the Lesson
    • Evaluation of lesson will be done by thorough formative assessment and summative assessment.
    • Teacher will observe to make sure each student understands the concept introduced in the lesson.
    • Teacher will make sure all requirements and guidelines are met by giving specific instructions to students who struggle with the skills.
    • Teacher will self critique on what worked well and what did not work well in the lesson.
    • Optional: Rubrics can be used for evaluation of oral presentation, writing piece.


  • NGSS: MS-ESS1-3. (supportive fit) Analyze and interpret data to determine scale properties of objects in the solar system. (fine print: Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the analysis of data from Earth-based instruments, space-based telescopes, and spacecraft to determine similarities and differences among solar system objects)
  • NGSS: D2.His.1.6-8.9. (strong fit) Analyze connections among events and developments in broader historical contexts.

Teacher References:

The content was developed at Albion College by Professor Nicolle Zellner (Albion College Department of Physics) and Victoria Della Pia (Albion Elementary School), with educational oversight by Melissa Mercer-Tachick (Muse Consulting). To develop these lesson plans and assessments, Victoria Della Pia was supported by a grant from the Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity at Albion College.