The aim of this activity is to encourage participants (students or teachers) to ask relevant questions within the context of a scientific problem and to stimulate the development of creative and critical thinking abilities and high-order reasoning skills.
- Starting from a general inquiry of the main problems affect our planet, participants are invited to focus on environmental topics, such as global warming, energy resources depletion, and the need to make experiences of living in another world (or in a different – conscious – way).
- Participants are encouraged to ask questions related to energy saving strategies.
- Their curiosity is stimulated by inviting them to search for web-based resources concerning past and current experiments performed by NASA and ESA scientists about Mars exploration (e.g., http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/), and to ask questions regarding the opportunity to exploit Lunar or Martian energy resources.
- Participants are stimulated to ask relevant questions about the construction of a thermodynamically-efficient space base on Mars.
When the participants have written and sorted their questions, the course leader asks the following questions:
- What questions are about science?
- Which questions can be answered by some kind of investigation?
- Where do you find information?
- What knowledge do you need?
Then, using the results of the questions above and starting from the problem of projecting a thermodynamically efficient space base on Mars, the course leader invites the participants to work in groups and to plan a research-like activity about the experimentation of ideas about the best materials to use in the construction and the best design strategies to practice in order to collect as much thermal energy as possible during the Martian day and avoid heat dispersion during the cold night.
Then, he/she invites the participants to share their ideas by exposing their planning of experiments and stimulate a discussion on the effectiveness of the proposed solutions.
Finally, he/she stimulates the participants to move back to the initial problem and drive their questioning activity towards the exploration of possible applications of their findings on energy saving strategies on the Earth (e.g. solar passive).