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Comparison of Problem-Solving Models

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To the Moon!

Credit: NASA
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NASA_AS-11-40-5875.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced that the United States was going to the moon. At the time, it seemed like an impossible mission. We had barely put a man in space—how could we land one on the moon? In 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the moon. NASA had solved an impossible problem.

Many Small Steps for Mankind

The scientists at NASA used the same kinds of problem-solving strategies that you use when you solve a tough math problem. To get to the moon, they had to break a big problem into smaller steps. First, they had to decide what sorts of machines they would require to complete the mission. They needed a way to get the astronauts into space, a way to get them to the moon, a vehicle that could land on the moon, and a rocket to take them home again. They designed and tested each part. Then, they put the whole thing together. The Apollo missions were one of the most monumental achievements in human history.

Credit: NASA
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-Earthrise.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

It's been nearly 50 years since the U.S. first landed on the moon. Today, many scientists are deliberating over going back. This time, we would need different kinds of rockets. We'd need ships that could make many trips and fly along regular routes. Perhaps then we could build a permanent base on the moon, from which we could explore the rest of the solar system, generate clean power for the Earth, and learn about the history of our Universe. Building a moon base is a pretty big problem to solve, but if we break the task into smaller steps, we might be able to find our way back.

See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsQF_k4QsvI

Explore More

Watch the videos below to see footage from the Apollo 11 mission and to learn why the moon still beckons.





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