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Destination Moon: NASA Art

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Science +4 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old)

Established in 1962, the NASA Artists Cooperation Program gave several artists unrestricted access to several NASA facilities. The goal was to communicate the emotional tone and the cultural significance of space exploration.

This collection uses the "Connect Extend Challenge" visible thinking strategy developed by Project Zero at Harvard University. This strategy encourages students to make connections between new ideas and prior knowledge. It also encourages them to make a personal connection to an artwork or topic.

This lesson helps teachers create connections between works of art and the study of space exploration, and to help teachers use art as a force for developing students’ critical thinking.  

Observe and discuss the first image as a class. Use the "Connect Extend Challenge" to discuss the image as a class. Ask the following: 

  • How is the artwork or object connected to something you know about?
  • What new ideas or impressions do you have that extended your thinking in new directions?
  • What is challenging or confusing? What do you wonder about?

Provide any background knowledge that enhances the conversation, using the metadata information about the NASA Artists Cooperation Program. 

Next, divide the students into 4 groups. Have them use the same questions to discuss one of the 4 images that deals the Apollo 11 launch. Wrap-up the discussion by having each group share out key thoughts and responses. Repeat the same process with the 4 images that represent Mission Control (note, Mission Control Images are from a selection of Apollo missions). 

Finally, students should choose one of the final 4 images to investigate, using the "Connect Extend Challenge" to guide their exploration. Their work could be shared verbally in a paired group, or written as a personal essay.