See the “Try it out!” section.
See the “Try it out!” section.
Try this game the next time your family is on a long road trip and the DVD player isn’t working. Strap on your eco-naut helmet, fasten your seat belt and prepare for lift off!
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine that your car is a spaceship and you and your family are preparing to blast off and tour a far, faraway galaxy. Once in space, your crew will not be able to communicate with planet Earth, nor will you be able to receive any extra supplies from home.
Whatever you pack in your spaceship is all you will have for one year. Once you are in space, nothing can come on board the ship and nothing can go out.
You must take everything you need to survive into outer space with you. Let’s call these items “inputs.” Inputs might include necessities such as food, water and oxygen.
Now let’s talk about “outputs.” Every input creates an output.
Let’s say you open a box of Coco Comets cereal for breakfast. What will you do with the box when it is empty? You only have so much room to store outputs on your spaceship.
Every piece of garbage you create while on tour will remain on the ship with you. Where will you store the garbage? Can you think of a way to reduce the amount of waste output you create during your time in space?
In order to survive, you must eat and drink, but this means your body will also process those food and water inputs and output them in the form of solid and liquid waste. Since nothing can leave the spaceship, you will need to think of a way to handle these bodily wastes.
On Earth, we simply flush a toilet, but what happens after our bodily output leaves our homes and enters the sewer systems? Where does it go? It might seem icky, but this is an important question.
Even breathing creates an output — carbon dioxide! Can you think of a way to filter the carbon dioxide from the interior of your spaceship? And how will you replace it with the oxygen your crew needs to breathe?
Hint: Plants love carbon dioxide and depend on it in the same way humans depend on oxygen to breathe. Conveniently, plants output oxygen!
However, plants also have other input needs, such as water and fertilizer. If you bring a banana tree on board, your ship you will need to bring enough water to sustain it for a year.
You must also consider another type of output the bananas will leave behind after you have snacked on the fruit — the peel! The banana peel will become another output to add to your garbage output pile. Can you think of other varieties of plants or trees that may provide a tasty treat without leaving a rind or peel behind for your garbage output pile?
We hope you enjoyed your trip! Now that you have returned from your galaxy tour, talk to your children about how inputs and outputs affect the Earth.
Much like your spaceship, the Earth must carry everything it needs to sustain itself and its many ecosystems and life forms. Nothing can come in and nothing can go out. There is no way to communicate with another planet to ask for help or supplies.
If Earth doesn’t have enough water or oxygen, what will we do? We can’t order it from Neptune! If our landfills begin to overflow, we can’t send our garbage into a black hole.
The survival of “Spaceship Earth” depends on the choices, actions and behaviors of the crew who inhabit it.
Discuss simple changes your family can make to help conserve the resources on “Spaceship Earth” and reduce the amount of output you contribute to Earth’s garbage output pile. These can be as basic as turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth or carrying water in a reusable thermos instead of drinking from disposable plastic bottles.
When you’re done, come back to Wonderopolis and share the ways your family is improving life on our spaceship. We’d love to hear your ideas! Special thanks go to our partner site Science NetLinks for inspiring this Wonder of the Day!
If you’re feeling worn out from your intergalactic travels, get some rest. Tomorrow, we’ll introduce you to a seed that knows how to make snack time really pop.