Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Structures and Materials: Shuttle Tiles Educator Guides

Audience: Educators
Grades: 2-12

The space shuttle has made space exploration history over the past 30 years by regularly traveling through extreme temperature fluctuations. Scientists and engineers collaborated to develop unique materials to withstand extreme temperatures. This led to the development of the unique "skin" of shuttle tiles.

NASA is offering space shuttle tiles to schools on a first-come, first-served, one-per-institution basis. The Structure and Materials Shuttle Tile Educator Guides contain mathematics- and science-related activities for using the tiles.

Schools may request a tile at NASA Space Programs -- Historic Artifacts Prescreening website. Additional information on tiles is available at the website as well as recommendations for curriculum and science lab projects. Directions for requesting artifacts are available on the website.
›  NASA Space Programs -- Historic Artifacts Prescreening website  →

For more information about the shuttle artifact donation program, read the feature article "Hands-on History."

Questions about this program should be directed to Jerry Phillips at Jerome.Phillips@nasa.gov.

Shuttle Tiles (Grades 2-4)
Students observe the shuttle tile and determine characteristics and requirements of thermal insulating materials. Next, students calculate the cost of launching the shuttle tiles into space.

Shuttle Tiles (Grades 5-8)
Students discuss the characteristics of the shuttle tile, first by determining the density of the tile, and then by investigating the thermal properties of materials. Students learn that engineers must consider many factors when choosing and manufacturing materials. The students design an experiment to compare the insulating capacities of paper and Styrofoam cups.

Shuttle Tiles (Grades 9-12)
Students observe the properties of a space shuttle tile and consider how these properties relate to the threats imposed on the shuttle by space debris. The students will use a tissue-paper-covered box to represent the tile as they experiment to determine the amount of energy required to penetrate the tissue paper.