In this exercise students will design the food supply for a hypothetical Mars colony. Students are provided a set of spatial constraints and suggestions of potential agroecosystems. Thought questions and invitations to creatively address problems of space use. Guidelines also instruct students to balance the need for calories with the need for nutrition (protein content and food variety). Students work in teams and take on the role of a NASA design team / consulting firm. This active learning exercise takes approximately 45 minutes in a non-science major introductory level courses but could be easily adapted to a shorter upper division science majors course or introductory level non-science majors course. Likewise the lesson could also be lengthened and adjusted to work as a laboratory assignment. Prior assigned readings as well as a short overview of trophic energy transfer and agricultural production tend to aid students in the assignment (especially in a non-majors course).
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