CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Space Disasters

2 to 3 lessons
To research a contentious issue, to present an opinion in a formal position paper
Students research space disasters and write a position paper about whether taxpayers’ dollars should be used for space exploration.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Ask students to identify space tragedies, such as the 1986 Challenger explosion, the 2002 Columbia explosion, Apollo 7, and the near miss of Apollo 13. Discuss space exploration and its costs, tragedies, and successes. Ask: Is space exploration a valid use of taxpayers' dollars?

Outline the Opportunity

Direct students to the topic Marc Garneau: Canadian Space Pioneer on the CBC Digital Archives website. Allow students time to review the whole site, and to review the clip "Canadian Hero" in its entirety. Students will then research space disasters, both online and in print.

Students will write a 2- to 3-page position paper on the following premise: Space exploration is necessary regardless of its human and financial costs. Students may choose to take an affirmative position or a negative position depending on their assessment of the data available.

Revisit and Reflect

Divide the students into two groups: those who defended space exploration and those who were opposed. Each group will develop a list of points to support its opinion. After the groups have developed their lists, allow them to debate the issue informally.



Students can write a letter to their member of Parliament or the Canadian Space Agency expressing their views on the Canadian space program. Students can use their position papers as a starting point, but should revise them to suit the format of a formal letter.

Related Content

Banding Together: Singing Out for Disaster Re...

Floods, famine, fire and drought -- when disaster strikes at home and around the world, Canadi...

Deadly Skies: Canada's Most Destructive Torna...

A tornado is the stuff of nightmares. Amid heavy rain and hail, huge thunderclouds roll in and...

Marc Garneau: Canadian Space Pioneer

His bravery is inspiring, his grace is charming and his credentials are out of this world. In ...

The Ocean Ranger Disaster

Valentine's Day, 1982: a terrible storm rages off the coast of Newfoundland. On the Grand Bank...

2001: Norad tracks Santa Claus

He sees you when you're sleeping. But Norad sees him first!

1963: Trans-Canada Air Lines crash kills 118

Just four minutes after liftoff, flight 831 crashes outside Montreal.