Teacher Background


Lesson Plan

Student Portfolio


Grade 6-8 | 3 (45 min) Classes

In this lesson, students will apply an understanding of statistics to the height requirements for astronaut candidacy. They are answering the question, “How can we use mean, median, and mode to analyze and graph Astronaut height data?” Students will analyze the data to identify patterns and deviations from the pattern.

For their assessment students will gather, graph, and analyze height data collected from measuring their classmates to determine the possibility of the students in their class being selected as an astronaut candidate based on height.


Targeted Performance Expectation(s):

Common Core Standards - Math


Recognize that a measure of center for a numerical data set summarizes all of its values with a single number, while a measure of variation describes how its values vary with a single number.


Display numerical data in plots on a number line, including dot plots, histograms, and box plots.


Reporting the number of observations.


Giving quantitative measures of center (median and/or mean) and variability (interquartile range and/or mean absolute deviation), as well as describing any overall pattern and any striking deviations from the overall pattern with reference to the context in which the data were gathered.



The amount of livable space


The average of the data


The data point that is in the middle when the data is listed in numerical order


The value or values that occur the most often in a data set


Data point that differs significantly from other measurements


The difference between the greatest and least values

Teacher Background

Astronaut Heights

When NASA announced that applications for the next astronaut class were open for the Astronaut Class of 2021, over 12,000 people applied for the ten available spots! There are strict requirements to apply for candidacy. In addition to being in excellent health, prospective astronauts must meet the following requirements:

● Height between 148.59 cm and 192 cm (4’10” and 6’3”)
● Weigh between 50 and 95 kilograms (110 and 209 pounds)
● Have 20/20 vision or better in each eye, with or without correction

Additionally, the basic requirements include:

● U.S. citizen
● Master’s degree in a STEM field
● Two years of work towards a doctoral program
● Completed medical degree or test pilot program
● At least two years of related professional experience or 1,000 hours flight time

Project Artemis

We are at an exciting time in space exploration. The Artemis program is a human spaceflight program led by NASA to explore the Moon, aiming for its first touchdown to be on the lunar south pole. The first mission in the Artemis program will bring the first woman and person of color to the moon. The Orion Spacecraft is the spacecraft to be used in the Artemis program. It is a partially reusable crewed spacecraft that will carry a crew of six and will launch atop a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The SLS is the successor to the retired Space Shuttle.

Designed to make use of proven rocket technology and existing resources, the NASA SLS uses modified Space Shuttle main engines for its central core stage and Space Shuttle derived solid rockets for the outboard boosters. The NASA SLS Block1 will generate 8.8 million pounds of thrust at lift off. That is enough raw power to carry the Orion crew vehicle, an upper stage booster, and four astronauts all the way to lunar orbit and back. The NASA SLS is designed as a modular system of components, stages, and payloads so it can fulfill multiple roles during Project Artemis. Subsequent Block 1B and Block 2 versions of the NASA SLS will launch landers and cargo to the moon, and later to Mars.


As NASA’s missions and spacecraft have changed, the requirements for astronauts have changed in response. The table below lists different spacecraft, their missions, and the habitable area.

Review of Statistics

A strong foundation and understanding of mean, median and mode is an important stepping stone to understanding statistics more deeply.

Mean: The average of the data. To calculate, find the sum of the data and then divide by the number of data points.
Median: The data point that is in the middle when data is listed in numerical order. For an even number of data points, the median is the average of the two middle values.
Mode: The value or values that occur most often in a data set.
Range: The difference between the greatest and least values. It is used to show the spread of the data in a data set. To calculate, subtract the smallest number from the largest number.
Outlier: Data point that differs significantly from other measurements.

Review of Graphing

Graphing is used to represent and summarize data sets in a meaningful way.
The basic components of a graph are:

X axis: Independent variable: what is being changed
Y axis: Dependent variable: what is being counted (or what changes based on the change in independent variable)
Title: Clear and accurate description of the data
Axis Label: Both axes should be labeled and include units of measurement

Types of Graphs

While there are many ways to graph data, this lesson focuses on the following four graphs:

Bar Graph
Circle Graph
Line Graph

Bar Graph

Uses vertical or horizontal bars to display numerical information

Used to show numbers in categories

Circle Graph / Pie Chart

Used to compare parts of the data to the whole
Entire circle represents the whole (100%)
Each wedge represents a part of the whole


Bar graph that shows the frequency of each item
Used to show distribution and relationships of a single variable over a set of categories

Line Graph

Used to show change over time
Plot a point for each data item, and then connect the dots with straight line segments


Calculator  (one per student)

Meter Stick  (one per group)

Graphing software such as Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, or graph paper, rulers and pencils  (one per student)

Just Right: Student Portfolio (1 per student)

NASA SLS, Engines, and Launch System (for optional class rocket launch)

Lesson Plan

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Student Portfolio

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PowerPoint Presentations

Astronaut Explorers Wanted – Slide Presentation

Mean, Median, and Mode – Slide Presentation


Supporting Materials: Interactive Notes

NAR Model Rocket Safety Code

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