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Design Challenge: How Do You Keep Things Cool?
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Design Challenge: How Do You Keep Things Cool?
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Body: Sun, Mercury
Mission: MESSENGER (Mercury)

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Short Description: Part of the "Staying Cool" education unit which investigates how MESSENGER can study Mercury without being damaged by the harsh high-temperature, high-radiation environment; in this activity, students design, build and test a model of MESSENGER and a sunshade.

Why We Chose This Lesson
This lesson was chosen for its quality and potential alignment to Next Generation Science Standards.

Read the Rubric for This Lesson

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • ETS1: Engineering Design
  • PS1: Matter and its Interactions
  • PS3: Energy
  • PS4: Waves and their Applications

Read more: NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas


  • 1-Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
  • 2-Developing and using models
  • 3-Planning and carrying out investigations
  • 4-Analyzing and interpreting data
  • 5-Using mathematics and computational thinking
  • 6-Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)

Read more: Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS

Crosscutting Concepts:

  • 1-Patterns
  • 3-Scale, proportion and quantity
  • 4-Systems and system models
  • 5-Energy and matter: flows, cycles and conversation
  • 6-Structures and function

Read more: NGSS Crosscutting Concepts


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Last Updated: 8 Sep 2014