Car board game.

CareerStart lessons: Grade six

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Learning outcomes

Students will understand the spin-off benefits generated by space exploration technology, particularly the spin-off benefits of the NASA program and its associated careers.

Teacher planning

Materials needed

  • Careers and Spin-Offs Resource Pages
  • NASA Spin-Offs” student handout — one for each student
  • Pencil
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor — page numbers listed in the resource pages of this lesson refer to the 2004-2005 edition. (Note: If the Occupational Outlook Handbook is not available at your school media center or guidance office, please refer to the electronic version on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. This website is also a great tool for readers who would struggle with a handbook of this size.)

Time required for lesson

Approximately 60 minutes
Homework time may be needed.

Advance preparation

  • Depending on the number of Occupational Outlook Handbooks at your school (or if you are making photocopies using resources found on their website) you will need to break students up into groups so students can share books or photocopies. Aim for groups of 4-5 students.
  • Make copies of “Careers and Spin-Offs Resource Pages.” Each student will need only 1 career and corresponding spin-off. Cut apart careers so they are ready to hand out to students.
  • Make copies of “NASA Spin-Offs” student handout — one for each student.


  1. Brainstorm possible spin-offs generated by space exploration with students in each of the following categories: medical, materials, transportation, processes, and future research. Teacher may need to suggest a few to get students started.
  2. Give each student a career and corresponding spin-offs along with a NASA spin-off student page.
  3. Have students work in groups to complete the procedure. (35 minutes)
  4. Individual questions can be completed during class if time allows or assigned as homework. As a whole class, review group questions 1-3. [Group questions and individual questions also appear on the “NASA Spin-Offs” student handout.] (15 minutes)

Group questions

  1. What effect does your spin-off have on your career? Hint: Think about how different your career would be without this spin-off.
  2. You hear a neighbor say, β€œThe government spends too much money on space exploration! We should be using this money to help people instead.” Do you agree or disagree? Explain your point of view.
  3. How do you think our lives would be different today if we had never had a space exploration program?

Individual questions

  1. Write an article for the school newspaper explaining what NASA spin-offs are and why they are important. Use your career worksheet to help you write two paragraphs or more describing how space exploration benefits everyone.
  2. A classmate of yours was absent when you learned about NASA spin-offs. She reads your article in the school paper and still does not understand. What else could you say to help your classmate understand? Hint: Think about what type of questions she may ask and where you could find the answers.


Optional resources for more information on the topics covered in this lesson

The Space Place: Inventions (Spinoffs) from Space
NASA’s Space Place webpage describes technologies and materials originally developed for the space program.
NASA Spinoff
NASA’s annual publication featuring successfully commercialized NASA technology.
To Space and Back! Coloring Book
NASA Spinoff’s coloring book for kids explains how technology transfer happens and includes related word games. A PDF from NASA.
10 NASA Inventions You Might Use Every Day
Discovery’s list of 10 NASA spinoffs that have become part of everyday life.
The Universe Explorer: Inventions from Space
An article on NASA spinoffs in an online magazine for kids.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Science (2005)

Grade 6

  • Goal 5: The learner will build understanding of the Solar System.
    • Objective 5.04: Describe space explorations and the understandings gained from them including:
      • N.A.S.A.
      • Technologies used to explore space.
      • Historic timeline.
      • Apollo mission to the moon.
      • Space Shuttle.
      • International Space Station.
      • Future goals.
    • Objective 5.06: Analyze the spin-off benefits generated by space exploration technology including:
      • Medical.
      • Materials.
      • Transportation.
      • Processes.
      • Future research.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Guidance (2010)
      • Progressing

        • P.CR.2 Understand the relationship among career goals and interests, personal interests, aptitudes, and abilities. P.CR.2.1 Maintain a career-planning portfolio. P.CR.2.2 Use research and information resources to obtain career information.