Aliens, Planets and Nebulae! Mission 2: Virus Collection

Mission: Virus Collection on Ni Moon

Level(1-5): Level 2 (You might grow whiskers)

Location: Ni Moon of the NiMine System


A virus has been spreading through starships and space stations in the area. It’s not deadly, but leaves those infected with whiskers in random places. After a commander contracted the illness and developed whiskers on his elbows, he has requested assistance in the collection of the original source of the virus on the Ni Moon in the NiMine System. 

The virus’s origins are from a fungal tree named Whiskharrius Magnius. The mission is to extract a sample from the tree without getting infected by breathing in spores or getting cut by one of its barbs. The sample must be obtained from the top of the trees which are 150 ft high. The Ni government does not allow flying aircraft near the trees because the spores become more disturbed. The samples must be around 10 grams and you need 100 of them in total from at least 20 trees. There is a reason that no one has obtained this sample before now – it is difficult.

Assignment: Crew members must create a way to get virus samples. Solutions can be created through models, sketches, dioramas, etc.. They will need to include the total weight of the samples and measurements/materials for their solutions. (Example: if a ladder is used, then give the length required.) There is a large problem of how to get to the tops of the trees, and there is another problem of how to store and get samples. Encourage thorough solutions.

Note: This is a good time for the facilitator to add conditions for solutions to incorporate other subjects (science, history, writing, etc.).

Ability Point Potential (rough rubric):

  • 2 ability points will be awarded for a clear description and showing the math used.
    • Materials (resources needed)
    • How your solution works
  • 1 ability point will be awarded for a clear drawing.
    • Measurements are important here (an extra point is given if learners include metric units)
  • 2 ability points will be awarded for a solution that includes a function (domain, range, and table). (This can be a function in their solution or a function describing the sampling process.)
  • 1 ability point will be awarded for presentation.
  • Additional points for project-based rubric that the facilitator adds.

Facilitator Notes:

  • If solutions do not account for the barbs, or spores:
    • Decrease ability points and add to the narrative that crew members now have whiskers on their elbows (or knees or face).
  • This week may incorporate more triangle math, but try to encourage a focus on creating a function to include in a solution.
  • For other subject matter exposure, learners can dive into fungi, spores, barbs, viruses, etc..

Mission 2 Wrap-up

Once learners are ready, have them present their solutions. If there are key pieces missing then ask questions. Discussion is key here – encourage problem-solving even during their presentation. The facilitator and learners may opt for iterations of their solutions.

Once solutions are finalized, award ability points. Facilitators can use the same methods as in Mission 1.

Ability Point Guidance (see potential above)

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