NASA Scientists

Interviewing a NASA Scientist

Grade: 6

Subject Integrated: Science, English Language Arts, Social Studies

In this lesson, students will conduct mock interviews between a reporter and NASA scientist.

Students will be able to question and answer one another as an interview unfolds – student’s questions and answers in the interview require in-depth research for validity.


  • Whiteboard
  • Computers for research
  • Scrap paper for notes
  • Pencil, pen

Learning Activities:

    a) Instructional Materials and Resources

    b) Procedure
    • Teacher will begin lesson asking students how an interview works, what is needed, what is asked.
    • Students will brainstorm these ideas.
    • Teacher will write the student responses on the whiteboard
      Interview: A meeting of people face to face (or electronically), especially for consultation.
      Interviewer: The party asking the questions.
      Interviewee: The party answering the questions.
    • Students will write down brainstorming ideas in Language Arts notebook.
    • Teacher will then ask about famous scientists (alive or dead).
    • Teacher will record students’ answers.
    • Students will record these answers into their notebooks.
    • Students will be given 15 minutes to research further information about NASA scientists.
    • After the time is up, students in pairs (three at discretion) are to choose a NASA scientist to interview.
    • One student will be the scientist, while one (or two) will be the interviewer.
    • Both parties are required for developing a script of the interview and valid information.
    • Students are to conduct an interview that gives a brief biography of the chosen NASA scientist.
    • When the interviewee cannot answer a question, optional additional research time can be provided to search out how that scientist would answer the question.
    • Students will present these interviews to the class when complete.
    • Optional: After the student interviews are held and reflective discussion (see below) about effective interviewing techniques have been done, the class may gather important questions that worked particularly well to conduct an interview with a real NASA scientist. Teacher may contact scientists using links below to arrange a phone or Skype meeting between the class and a NASA scientist.

    c) Instructional Groups
    • Lesson will be taught to the class as a whole with monitoring of pairs/small groups.

    d) Discussion
    • Are there any questions?
    • Who are famous scientists?
    • Who are famous NASA scientists?
    • What is ___ known for?
    • How do you conduct an interview?
    • How does an interview work?
    • What questions worked particularly well and why?

    e) Assessment
    • Summative assessment will be used.
    • Teacher will guide students to resources and/or 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
    • Evaluation of lesson will be done by thorough 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 interview.


  • Common Core: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.4. (strong fit) Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • NCSS: D3.1.6-8. (strong fit) Gather relevant information from multiple sources while using the origin, authority, structure, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection.
  • NCSS: D3.2.6-8. (strong fit) Evaluate the credibility of a source by determining its relevance and intended use.

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.