This is a research task involving calculation, estimation and online research. Students are asked to compare the cost of building a rocket to go to the Moon with the cost of building a stack of pound coins to reach the Moon.

Overview of task

This is a research task involving calculation, estimation and online research. Students are asked to compare the cost of building a rocket to go to the Moon with the cost of building a stack of pound coins to reach the Moon.

Strand(s):

Number and Measures

Prior knowledge

There is little or no prerequisite knowledge beyond what students will be familiar with from GCSE mathematics. They will need to research the key information needed – for example the thickness of a pound coin, and the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

Relevance to Core Maths qualifications

•AQA

•C&G

•Eduqas

•Pearson/ Edexcel

•OCR

Suggested approaches

Pairs or small groups of students could be asked to present their approaches and results to the class. Encourage a range of approaches; for example pupils could adjust the historic cost of the Apollo programme for inflation, or they could attempt to estimate a modern-day cost using current technology.

Resources/documentation

The supplied worksheet introduces the task. No other documentation is needed, as students will research the required information.

Relevant digital technologies

Internet access will be required to carry out the necessary research. Students could use spreadsheets to perform the calculations for the cost of a stack of coins, and for the modelling involved in estimating the cost of a rocket trip.

Possible extensions

There are many possible extensions involving the cost of space travel. For example, students could research trends in the cost of satellite payload deployment, compare the budgets of NASA and the ESA (European Space Agency), or investigate the economics of reusable space technology (perhaps using information from the SpaceX website).

Acknowledgement

Developed by the mathematics department at Queen Elizabeth School, Dorset.