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  • Mission to the Orbiting Space Laboratory (MOSL): A Scenario-based Program to Engage Students in Science

    Paper number



    Ms. Naomi Mathers, Victorian Space Science Education Centre, Australia


    Mr. Michael Pakakis, Victorian Space Science Education Centre, Australia


    Ms. Beverley MacDonald, Victorian Space Science Education Centre, Australia



    Within the climate of declining numbers of students studying science and mathematics in senior secondary schools, the Victorian Space Science Education Centre (VSSEC) in Melbourne, Australia is bucking the trend. VSSEC was established to stimulate students’ enthusiasm for maths, science, and technology using space as the context. Space has been demonstrated as an effective tool for engaging students and the general public in science and its multi disciplinary nature provides a rich environment for education. VSSEC’s scenario-based programs utilise methodologies such as hands-on applications, immersive-learning, integrated technologies, critical thinking and mentoring.
    The use of a scenario provides a real-life context and purpose to what students might otherwise consider disjointed information. Students are prepared to absorb a lot of information if it’s necessary to the scenario, and presenting information they can see, hear, touch and smell creates a memorable learning and sensory experience. Science also operates in the real world, and our future scientists and future citizens need information and context, and the ability to scrutinize both so they can ask: Where does this information come from and how do I evaluate it?
    The first scenario-based program to be offered at VSSEC was a Mission to Mars. This program involves twenty-four students, manning the computers in Mission Control, undertaking a simulated flight to an analogue Mars surface, and, back at the lab, analysing the samples and data they collected. Embedded in this hands-on program are a set of classroom lesson designed to provide a contextual meaning to the excursion, while also addressing real life experience, and the conceptual landscape of science as a method and an idea.
    Feedback from nearly 900 students that completed the Mission to Mars during 2007 indicated that this approach was an effective tool for engaging students in a range of science topics. Teachers report an increase in attentiveness, understanding and most importantly enrolments in science.   
    Students attending VSSEC’s new Mission to the Orbiting Space Laboratory (MOSL) conduct fitness and medical assessments before a flight to the Space Laboratory, where, in conjunction with the team in Mission Control, they maintain the safety of the Space Station, and undertake an experimental program that includes robotics, fuel cell technology, laser communication, plant growth, space weather and electronics.
    This paper will explore the MOSL program and how scenario-based programs are an effective tool for integrating multiple disciplines that stimulate student’s enthusiasm for maths, science and technology.
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-08.E1.5.4.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.