International Space Station - Microgravity and experiments

Part of:

Google Expeditions
Lesson overview

In this lesson students will develop their ability to plan an experiment, discuss differing results and justify the choices of equipment to be used in zero gravity. Students consider why astronauts carry out experiments in microgravity.

Learning outcomes
  • To be able to plan an experiment
  • To be able to suggest how / why experiment results may be different in microgravity
  • To be able to justify equipment choice for an experiment in zero gravity
  • Understand how and why weightlessness can occur
Expedition Prep Checklist

Download the Google Expeditions App on all devices and select the expedition International Space Station and scenes Japanese Experiment Module, Columbus Laboratory, and Destiny.

Explore the expedition and locate points of interest.

Review the video content in the Lesson resources section to update your knowledge and develop some teaching ideas.

Lesson steps
  1. Introduction (10 mins)
    Explain that astronauts spend a lot of time on the ISS doing experiments and that many of these experiments help us learn about how / why things happen on Earth. Ask students to discuss what we might need to know if we want to travel further into space.
  2. Expedition (20 mins)
    Students complete the expedition, visiting Japanese Experiment Module, Columbus Laboratory and Destiny modules.
    Ask students to discuss what astronauts do on the ISS, why they are there and why we need to know how / why things happen differently in microgravity. Students then write answers to the above questions.
  3. Activity (30 mins)
    Lead a class discussion on how and why there are experiments in space and how the equipment differs.

    Students mind map what they would like to investigate if they were going into space. Ask how the results would differ in space and on Earth. Students then design an experiment they would like to conduct, consider the equipment and adaptions required, create a diagram of their experiment and make predictions of the results on Earth, and in space.
  4. Extension
    Students watch videos from the Expedition Prep Checklist and research parabolic flights and how / why people can experience weightlessness on them.