Mission 3

Australian Virtual Astronaut Challenge

Mission 3 | Identify

Identify the constraints

In Mission 3 of the Australian Virtual Astronaut Challenge, we look to identify the constraints of a project. We review the work from Nick De Leon from the Royal College of Art, and Allan Ryan from the Hargraves Institute will discuss how to be a good project manager.

Register for the 2024 challenge here


What is ‘Identify’

This identify stage of the iSTEM engineering design process requires students to determine the constraints of their project. When do I need to have the project completed? What does it need to do? What are the costs factors?  What materials, tools and equipment required? In this stage students typically start project management, so they are able to complete the project on time and on budget.

Use the missions described below to commence solving one of the following scenarios;

  • Earth Observation
  • Robotics
  • Home on the Moon
  • Growing food in space
  • AI in Space

Mission Brief

Key Questions for Students to consider

  • What are the constraints of the problem you are trying to solve?
  • What other solutions are people using and how will that affect their ability to use your solution?
  • How much will it cost and what is the overall budget?
  • What skills and knowledge does the team possess?
  • How much time do I have for completion?
  • What tools and equipment are required and available?
  • What data or information will be needed

Possible Activities

  • Clearly identify all relevant constraints.
  • Identify constraints of the end user.
  • Produce a budget or finance plan.
  • Identify start and finish dates and any milestones for the project.
  • Develop a resource list, including tools, materials, and people.
  • Identify data and information that needs to be collected

Suggested Learning Sequence – Mission 3

Our expert curriculum designers have developed a suggested Mission 3 learning sequence for teachers. The following is for the full set of AVA resources, however, teachers are encouraged to only use activities that are most suitable for their own class and school setting.

Sub Mission 1: Setting the Scene Watch the introductory video for mission 3 presented by Ben Newsome.

Sub Mission 2: Constraints Video We also suggest that students watch the introductory video for week 2 featuring Ted Tagami and Nick De Leon. This time take particular note of the conversations regarding constraints.

Sub Mission 3: Constraints Provide students with, What is a Constraint worksheet, discuss constraints and the work presented in the Nick De Leon and Ted Tagami video. Also, watch the power of creative constraints Ted Talk video.

Sub Mission 4: Mindmap Students use the mind map worksheet to brainstorm constraints for their projects.

Sub Mission 5: Identify Constraints Students to use this worksheet to clearly identify their project constraints. Students to use the results of their mind-mapping exercise. Students also develop different criteria to evaluate the success of their final project. 

Sub Mission 6: Materials, Tools and Equipment Provide students with the materials, tools and equipment worksheet where they complete the two activities. Students identify the materials that they may require as well as any tools and equipment which will be essential. 

Sub Mission 7: Project Management and Teamwork Students watch the AVA2021 video featuring Allan Ryan from the Hargraves Institute. Provide students with the worksheet to support the two challenges. Students complete the 30-second and 2-minute challenge as described in the video and worksheet. 

Sub Mission 8: Project Management Software  Students research Trello and other project management software to determine if it is suitable to use for their projects.

Sub Mission 9: Project Management Exercises Provide students with Project Management Worksheet.

Sub Mission 10: Gantt Chart Students to create a basic Gantt chart using the worksheet. Students can create using an excel spreadsheet as an extension exercise. Students to complete a basic action plan.

Sub Mission 11: Scenarios Get students to watch the selected videos from their selected scenario to provide additional context for their project.

Downloadable Resources

What is a Constraint?

This worksheet describes the work of Nick De Leon from the Royal College of Art UK. It supports the video and provides a written record of the his discussions on Constraints.

Download Worksheet >>>

Mind Map

In this worksheet, students complete a Mindmap to brainstorm as many different constraints that they may have on their projects. Students should consider their mission brief from Mission 2.

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In this worksheet, students determine their final constraints based on the mind mapping exercise they completed on the previous worksheet. Students also develop criteria to evaluate success.

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Materials, Tools and Equipment

In this worksheet students are asked to identify any materials, tools or equipment that they may require in order to solve the problem.

Download Worksheet >>>

Project Management and Teamwork

In this worksheet students are introduced to the video featuring Allan Ryan from the Hargraves Institute. It involves students completing two design exercises.

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Gantt Chart

In this worksheet, students are to create their own basic Gantt chart. Students are also asked to complete an action plan to assist them in planning their projects.

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This downloadable PDF is a full collation of the all the ‘Identify’ worksheets. This has been uploaded for help save teachers time.

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All Scenarios – Resources

General background information for teachers and students to support challenge activities

Ted Tagami CEO of Magnitude.io talks with Dr Nick De Leon from the Royal College of Art in the United Kingdom discuss the need for constraints in the design thinking process. (9:23 minutes)

This AVA 2021 video features Allan Ryan from the Hargraves Institute. Allan discusses what make a good project management team and outlines some tips about project management. (09:09 minutes)

There are constraints in any project. These constraints can cover everything from the cost of resources, how quickly can you get those resources, how many people you have and much more. In this TED-ED video, Brandon Rodriguez explains how creative constraints actually help drive discovery and innovation. (4:51 minutes)

Scenario 1: Earth Observations

Modelling the Complex Chemistry of Earth’s Atmosphere

There are many gases in the atmosphere, all of which are constantly moving and interacting. By using earth observation, NASA can observe the many chemical reactions happening in our atmosphere and get a stronger understanding of air pollution. (4:21 minutes)

NASA’s CALIPSO Satellite Animation Shows Smoke from Australian Fires in 2019/2020

Earth observation allows scientists to track events such as bushfires. This animation shows RGB color images from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite for December 31, 2019 through January 5, 2020.  (39 seconds)

Scenario 2: Robotics

Closing date for submissions: Semester 1- Friday 28 June 2024; Semester 2 – To be confirmed
Download the mission brief

AROSE – Identifying the constraints

AROSE – Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth consortium works to leverage existing remote operations expertise in the Australian resource sector and catalyse knowledge transfer between terrestrial and off-Earth domains. Newton Campbell, Director – Space Programs speaks with Ben Newsome from Fizzics Education on the importance of identifying constraints. (3:29 Minutes)

NASA Investigating Soft Robots for Space Exploration

How can actuators be built and used in space? What if the components are soft as opposed to hard? Does this open up new opportunities? How can you apply this technology or something new as you identify the constraints for solving a robotics challenge in space? (1:55 minutes)

Scenario 3: Home on the Moon

Creating a 3D printed habitat to simulate a potential Mars habitat

Startup ICON has 3D-printed a Mars habitat, where four people will live in the Mars Dune Alpha on Earth for a year to help NASA study the challenges of living on the red planet. (4:14 minutes)

Self-replicating, Self-repairing Planetary Habitats Made of Fungus

Myco-architecture explores the impressive properties of fungal mycelium which is, in some ways, stronger than reinforced concrete and is capable of growing and repairing itself. Is this a possible future for habitats beyond Earth?  (49 seconds)

Scenario 4: Growing Plants in Space

China grows rice on the Tiangong station

The Shenzhou-14 crew on the Tiangong space station have grown rice to study how the life cycle is affected by microgravity. This research will help improve nutrition in space and potentially back on Earth. (1:24 minutes)

How to water plants in space

NASA astronaut Christina Koch explains how to water the plants from the Veg-04B experiment in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station. (1:54 minutes)

Scenario 5: AI in Space

Artificial intelligence is being deployed in robotic systems to explore our solar system. (1:30 minutes)

Dr Sara Webb Astrophysicist, Swinburne University of Technology talks about how she identifies constraints for machine learning (1:52 Minutes)

Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses A.I. with the former head of DARPA, Arati Prabhakar and robotics engineer Hod Lipson. (3:00 minutes)

Scenario 6: Telecommunications in Space

Trish Tatel from Optus Satellite describes the work done to track spacecraft using Earth stations (56 seconds)

Dubbed the ‘SpaceDataHighway’, EDRS will help Earth-observing satellites to transmit large quantities of potentially life-saving data down to Europe in near-real time. (1:17 Minutes)

Australian Virtual Astronaut Challenge

Next Mission | Brainstorm

Possible Solutions 

Create, develop, and communicate ideas.

Take-Off to Mission 4 >>>