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Space Teams Academy
FAQs

                                    Questions and Answers
What is the difference between Space Teams Academy and a Competition Event?

Competitions
are week-long world-wide STEM events with live webcast events and speakers, as well as the team competition to achieve the best overall mission design as determined by the team scores on each activity.  It is an interactive event for the week, followed by an award ceremony and prizes for the winning teams.   It is organized and run by Space Teams.  Teachers only need to get their students signed up and using the software platform.  The rest is organized and executed through webcasts and online team interaction, along with tech support from our team.  Teachers or local mentors can assist the student teams, but they do not have to run the program locally.

Space Teams Academy is designed for teachers, STEM leaders, after school clubs, museums or other organizations to run Space Teams locally as a Space education program.  It can also be used directly by an individual student (or anyone) by simply signing up on their own.  All of the lessons, tutorials, quizzes, and activities are available to customize a program and a set of required actions for the students on any desired schedule.  It can be used stand-alone, or to supplement a space curriculum as part of a science or engineering class.  It is aligned with the NGSS middle and high school science objectives, certified as an ESSA Level 4 STEM program, and it is sponsored by NASA under the Space Grant KIDS program.  Students can do the program (or parts thereof) in teams or individually as desired by the teacher/mentor.  Licenses for Space Teams Academy are for a full-year (both for the school/organization, and for the student).  For example, a science teacher can use 4 licenses (seats) to run 32 students through the program in teams of 4.  Teachers/mentors get support directly from Space Teams to set up, organize and run the program with their students.  Students can monitor their team's performance compared to others, and teachers/mentors have the option to award prizes or recognize scores and winning teams.  It is also possible to add guest speakers and other live events.
How much does it cost?                       For Space Teams Academy 
                                                             Individual Students - $295 USD - 1 year student account
                                                             School/Organization License - $495 USD - 1 year, 4 users
                                                                                                             $995 USD - 1 year, 12 users
                                                                                                           - $50 USD per student
                                                            For Live Competition Programs, Custom Camps/STEM Events 
                                                            See Posted Event Pricing or Contact Spacecraft.vr@gmail.com   
When can I do Space Teams Academy?       NOW, Anytime - Individuals follow self-guided program
                                                                    Classes, Teams, Clubs, Competitions - Time periods chosen                                                                                                                                   by the teacher,
                                                                                                                                 mentor, STEM leader
Is it fun?                                                      It's a blast - see the video of students on the Home Page.
 
What is the ideal team size?     

Anywhere from 1 to 10 students can be on a team, but the best size is 3 or 4

What specs does my computer need to have?
 
  • A CPU with at least 4 cores / 2.7 GHZ
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 15 GB available on Hard Drive
  • Windows 10
  • GPU Recommended

Is this all in Virtual Reality?
 
There are incredible VR space exploration experiences such as doing a spacewalk, flying all around Mars, or exploring the solar system.  The Space Teams Academy design and mission activities, however, can be done by you and your team directly on your computer.
How long does it take to do?
There are six modules to complete, each including lessons, tutorials and the design/mission activity.  You may want to spend more time on some than on others to get the best mission design and score higher than other teams, but on average, each one takes about 2-3 hours.  Many programs will choose to focus on certain modules and treat the others as optional (based on time available).

How does this align with the Next Generation Science Standards?
 
Space Teams Academy is perfectly aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and covers most of NASA's STEM Educational Objectives as well.  Here is a Correlation Chart of Space Teams Academy (STA) and NGSS.  
 
Is this sponsored by NASA?
Yes, Space Teams Academy has NASA Space Grant support to reach up to 10,000 students in 100 underserved community schools or programs over the years 2023-2026.   If your school has been selected for the NASA SG KIDS program, there is no cost to you or your students.
How accurate are the space simulations?
The professional version of Space Teams is used for actual space system and mission design for NASA projects and other research and development activities performed by the space industry as well as universities.  The goal of the Space Teams platform is to provide a precise digital twin model of the space environment so that users can test their concepts for spacecraft, robots, habitats, and all space systems as part of an overall mission.  It is also intended for training astronauts and mission control personnel.  
 
What do the lessons cover and how many hours is it?
 
The lessons cover most of the key principles involved in an end-to-end human space mission, including an understanding of the space environment, the design of space systems and spacecraft, orbital mechanics, remote sensing, entry, descent and landing, extraterrestrial habitat design, surface operations, robotics and EVA (spacesuits), in-situ resource utilization (living off of local resources), and sustainability.
 
How much work is this for the teacher/mentor?
 
Competitions - Mainly to get the students registered with downloaded software and to keep them on schedule with the daily webcasts and following the schedule of lessons and activities.  If they have questions or issues, the Space Teams support crew will help you answer their questions.
 
Space Teams Academy - Our support team will help get your computer(s) set up, teach you how to create student accounts, and show you how your students will access the software.  There are a few short teacher videos and documentation, but our support crew can help with anything.  You will customize the program that you want your students to do - based on time available and desired topics.  Once students have their own accounts they can figure out most things from there on their own, or using the in-application tutorial, AI feedback, video lessons, and Help information.  Any questions can be answered by our support team.
 
How do seat licenses and student accounts work?
 
For Space Teams Academy, the Org Manager (ie teacher/mentor/person who made the school or class account etc)  can add seats and student accounts as needed.  For "Competitions" there are no seats and accounts, there are just students registered for the competition.  For Space Teams Academy, however, a 'seat' means a computer that has Space Teams installed.  For example, a teacher can have 4 seats (4 computers running Space Teams), and this allows teams of 4 students to do Space Teams together at the same time.  4 seats means only 4 students can be logged in at once.  For each student that is doing the program, they need their own user account.  On the Dashboard (Website), the teacher/mentor can add student accounts as needed, which creates a code for the student to use when they log in.  The reason for seats and accounts is so that a teacher can have a limited number of computer stations running Space Teams, but support a large number of students doing the program at much lower cost than individual licenses.   
 
How many activities and how long do they take?
 
The program consists of 6 major activities.  Each one includes a video lesson on the space science or engineering concepts, a tutorial on how to do the design or mission activity using the software, a quiz on the material that you learned, and the mission/design activity itself.  This should take 2-3 hours to complete for each activity, although you may choose to work harder to improve your design and achieve a higher score.
 
How does this teach students about the engineering design process?
 
You are designing a spaceship to take you and your crew to a rogue planet that is passing through our solar system.  Your ship actually has to work for this mission.  It has to have a propulsion system and the fuel to actually get there, and at the same time, it has to support the life of the crew for the duration of the mission.  You will also be building habitat facilities at your destination, and these components need to be brought from Earth.  So your ship has to carry this cargo as well.  In order to meet all these objectives you'll need to do an iterative engineering design process, which will make a lot of sense to you as an artificially intelligent algorithm will help you determine how to improve your design until it works.   Similarly, you will have other challenges throughout the other activities that require critical thinking, analysis, and intelligent choices to achieve a working design.  Ultimately, you would like to be able to stay and live on this new planet as long as possible.  To achieve long-term sustainability for your crew using local resources will require thoughtful decision making and good teamwork.
 
What does it mean that AI guidance helps students with their designs?
 
Any spacecraft, habitat or other space system will have to meet certain requirements.  In this case, you must reach your destination, carry lots of cargo, and survive the journey.  Life support for your crew means that you require a certain amount of water, oxygen and food, and of course many other things such as clothing, exercise equipment, etc.  There are also science objectives for the duration of the mission using specialized instruments and facilities.  To save weight, you will also want to recycle everything to the greatest extent possible.  The AI system that is monitoring your teams' design is looking at all of these objectives and performing simulated mission calculations to see what will happen in the future.  Will you run out of power?  Do you have enough supply and recycling capability for oxygen that your crew will survive, even if there is a failure?  The AI examines all of these things and lets you know if a particular resource or capability is missing or insufficient for your design.  This gives you the opportunity to figure out how to improve the design.  During this process, you will need to apply your knowledge and skills to solving each problem that the AI finds with your design.  Eventually, the AI will tell you that your mission is going to work!  
 
Are team members working virtually?  Do they need to be together?
 
Teams can be entirely remote and work together virtually on each of the activities.  When doing an activity you automatically have live voice communication with your team, and you can also use text chat if you wish.  But you don't have to be far part.  You can just as easily be sitting next to each other and your team can be in the same room.  All options are possible.
 
How are activities scored?
 
Each activity has certain objectives that need to be met, and each of these has a score up to 100%.  For example, if you have enough oxygen for your mission, you will get 100% for that score.  If you land safely and softly, exactly at the intended landing site, you'll get a good score.  If you don't use up too much fuel adjusting your orbital parameters during your flight, then your score will reflect this.  Each activity has multiple scores that are weighted into a total, and there is a total score for the entire mission as well.  You will be able to see your score, and those of all the other teams, on the leaderboard.   You can always go back and try to improve your score for part of the mission.  It is also true that later parts of the mission depend on how well you designed and performed on earlier parts of the mission design.  So, in some cases, you may decide that you need to go back to an earlier activity to improve something.
 
Can you see what other teams are doing and their scores?
 
Yes, on the leaderboard, which is found on the dashboard (main) website.  
 
How do you make a team?
 
On the main dashboard you will see what team you are on, the other members, and from there you can create teams, invite others, and perform all other actions related to your team.  
 
Are their prizes for the winning teams?
 
In the world-wide competitions there are prizes for winning teams in each league (1st, 2nd, 3rd place for the middle-school and high-school leagues).  For Space Teams Academy it is up to your teacher, mentor or STEM leader to decide on how to recognize the winning teams.
 
Is there a certificate for completing the Space Teams Mission successfully?
 
Yes.  Once you complete all of the activities on the activity checklist (on your dashboard), you will see that your Space Teams Graduation Certificate automatically becomes available to print at the bottom of the Activities page.  If you are on a winning team, you will also find your 1st, 2nd, 3rd place certificates there as well.  
 
How does one get help with Space Teams Academy?
 
There are many ways to get help.
1- Within each activity in the SpaceCRAFT Application you will see a tutorial button as you enter the activity.  Guidance, explanation, instructions and some tips are all found in these tutorials.  Start here for help.
2- Keyboard and mouse commands are always available in popup menus at the bottom of the screen in the application.  Tool tips are frequently available if you hover the mouse over something.   
3- Watch the tutorial for each activity.  If you try to do the activity without watching this tutorial video, you are not giving yourself the information you need to succeed.  A ton of great information is in each tutorial video - find these on the Activities page in your Dashboard.
4- On the Learning tab in your Dashboard there are several Help documents for all aspects of Space Teams.  One of these - called Hints, Tips and Tricks - has many very helpful suggestions for how to improve your design and maximize your team's score.
5- There is a HELP button on the right side of your Dashboard.  Select this to send the Space Teams support crew a ticket on anything at all.  The response will be via Email, so keep an eye on your inbox.  6- Ask another student or your teacher/mentor, who may already know the answer.  But they may also be able to get help from our support team more quickly through WhatsApp or Zoom. 
 
Can we add more license seats or students later?
Yes, for teachers/mentors running Space Teams Academy, you can always add more seats (more computers that can run Space Teams) and more student accounts.  Access to this is from your homepage on the Dashboard.  
Can Adults do Space Teams Academy?
Absolutely, and those not familiar with space system and mission design will be able to learn from the program at any age.  
What comes after Space Teams Academy?
Space Teams Professional is the actual software used for real system and mission design and simulation for NASA and space industry applications.  We are working on an advanced version of Space Teams Academy for graduates of this program or university-level students.  With Space Teams Pro, there are no fixed activities, but rather the possibility of designing any system or mission to meet requirements provided by NASA or industry for future design competitions.    

Is there rigorous evidence that this program is effective?
 
Yes.  A study was performed to analyze the efficacy of the Space Teams program.  It was concluded that engagement in the Space Teams program resulted in greater understanding of the engineering design process, positive attitudes towards space science and engineering, significantly greater STEM identity and self-efficacy, and an increased understanding of the importance of exploration.  A larger and more in-depth study is now underway as part of the NASA SG KIDS Grant with the goal of both assessment and continual improvement.  




 
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