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NASA Exploration Design Challenge 2013

Last date to apply

June 30, 2014

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About NASA Exploration Design Challenge

EDC Logo

  • The goal of the Exploration Design Challenge is for students to research and design ways to protect astronauts from space radiation.
  • NASA and Lockheed Martin are developing the Orion spacecraft that will carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit and on to an asteroid or Mars.
  • Protecting astronauts from radiation on these distant travels is an important -- and very real -- problem that needs solving.
  • Students will study the effects of radiation on human space travelers and analyze different materials that simulate space radiation shielding for Orion.
  • After participating in activities guided by their teachers, students will recommend materials that best block harmful radiation.
  • High school students can take the challenge farther by designing shielding to protect a sensor inside Orion from space radiation.
  • Watch NASA Exploration Design Challenge videos to know about the competition.

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NASA Exploration Design Challenge Eligibility Criteria

Gender Both
Region Global
Class/ Age Class 1-12

The Challenge will be in the following levels

  • K-4 challenge
  • 5-8 challenge
  • 9-12 challenge

Eligibility NASA Eploration design Challenge

  • There are different activities at different levels
    • The youngest explorers (K-4) will complete NASA education activities related to radiation.
    • Grades 5-8, will also design and develop a radiation shield prototype. Instructions, guidebooks and related content are provided on the EDC website.
    • Grade 9-12 participants in addition to the activities listed above, teams of students will design a radiation shield prototype that meets established criteria and constraints.
    • International children are not eligible to compete in the Grades 9 – 12  Phase 2, Solve Problems Like Engineers.
    • Phase 2 is open for only the US Citizens.

NASA Exploration Design Challenge Reward

  • Teams will submit their designs, and the top five designs will be tested in a virtual radiation simulator.
  • The winning team will travel to Florida for Orion’s launch.
  • The winning design will fly aboard the Orion capsule during Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) set for September 2014.
  • All students who participate in the challenge will have their names flown on-board the
    Orion as honorary crew members during EFT-1.
  • There are also certificates available to download for both educators and students who participate in the challenge.

NASA Exploration Design Challenge Application form and Process

  • The school has to be registered first before beginning the challenge. While registering the school will be taken to the National Institute of Aerospace website to complete the registration.
  • After Registration, the school is added to the NASA EDC Participation Map.

Step 1: Register to Participate in Exploration Design Challenge.- It is free of cost.

Step 2: The school and the teachers have to introduce design challenge

Step 3: Guide student engineer to find a solution to the problem. Which of the materials provided will block the most simulated space radiation and be the best material for designing a radiation shield for Orion?

Step 4: Students are registered as the virtual flight crew member.

Download a student certificate.

  • Each group must have an adult to serve as their mentor, educator, or group leader. Adult leaders may be teachers, parents, college students, volunteers. Adult sponsors may register multiple groups throughout the duration of the challenge.
  • Only first names are submitted so that we do not collect any personally identifying information from minors for the NASA Exploration Design Challenge
  • Team sizes range from one or two children working with an adult to entire schools working on the challenge. 
  • The NASA EDC is versatile. Younger children or children only completing in Phase 1 of the challenge may complete the explorations in one or two 30 to 40-minute time slots

Brochure-Grade K-5



NASA Exploration Design Challenge Selection Process

Teams will submit their designs, and the top five designs will be tested in a virtual radiation simulator.

NASA Exploration Design Challenge Address

NASA Human Health and Performance Center
2101 NASA Parkway, Mailcode: SA, Houston, Texas 77058

NASA Exploration Design Challenge Contact Details

Phone: (281) 483-7070
Email: nasaedc@nianet.org

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