Building a Lunar Colony

'I got to make fun things I never thought I could do before.'

Course Description

If humans continue to deplete resources on planet Earth, will there come a time when we need to create a settlement somewhere else in our solar system? In this course, students will explore what it might take to set up a Moon colony – what materials they will need to bring, how the very different lunar environment might impact the way they live, and what challenges they would face to survive on the Moon. Students will investigate impacts of the lunar environment and construct models of possible colonies to meet specific criteria and constraints.

Key Topics: Gravity • Engineering Design Process • Mass 

Additional Course Information (PDF)

Developed by Sean Conley,

Marilyn Doerr, PhD and


Course Highlights

The Dark Side of the Moon?

The Dark Side of the Moon?

The Dark Side of the MOON

Students consider scale when developing models of the Earth and moon that properly represent their mass and size.  Students use their models to simulate the movement of the Earth and moon are the sun to determine if there is “dark side” of the moon.

Gravity on the Earth and Moon

Gravity on the Earth and Moon

Gravity on the Earh and moon

Students model how celestial objects with different masses move with respect to each other. At the end of this activity, students conclude that objects with greater mass have a stronger gravitational pull and objects with less mass orbit objects with greater mass.  

Atmosphere on the Moon

Atmosphere on the Moon

Atmosphere on the Moon

Students explore the environmental differences between the Earth and moon and hypothesize how the lack of atmosphere would impact humans on the moon.  Then, students use the engineering process to design a protective suit for a marshmallow.

Master Mobiles

Students design their own mobiles using criteria, constraints, and the principles of balance and center or mass that they have explored throughout the day.

Back to Balance

Students experiment with kinesthetic kinetic sculpture, including some using gears.

Engineering Automata

Students engineer automata using gears

Crushable Sculpture

Students learn about an artist who represents collisions with his work and use the premise to create their own crushable sculptures.

Getting Into Gear

Students investigate gears and note the ways that gears can impact motion.

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Copy of Moon
Lunar Colonies Constructed