Apollo proved to be a bonanza for technology, and it spun off a host of inventions that permeate our economy to this day. NASA was responsible for developing freeze-dried food for zero-gravity mealtime, cordless tools that could be used to collect Moon samples, digital signal processors to enhance pictures of the Moon (a precursor to the MRI machine), and camera-on-a-chip technology used in smartphones today; along with remote cameras, microphones, and other communications equipment capable of allowing the American people a front row seat to the mission.
Here are just a few more of the many Apollo-based innovations:
Lightweight mini-computer GPS
Kidney dialysis machine
CPAP breathing machine
Lead paint detector
Improved vehicle brakes
Not only did these inventions quickly find their way into the lives of Americans, but many of them also produced abundant tax returns for the government itself. The plan catalyzed consumer industries and sent the U.S. economy soaring to unprecedented levels.
What impact did each of these inventions have on society? Research other inventions that came out of the space mission and choose one that has had a direct effect on your life. What is that impact?
Research and Development (R&D) constitutes the first stage of development for a potential new product. Ask students to research what the R&D phase looks like in product development, and then host a shark tank for an invention or an improvement upon a current technology used in space that may also benefit humankind here on earth.
Set aside time for students to explore careers that have been impacted by the technology developed by NASA. Use this as an opportunity to help students develop skills and effectively share ideas as they share their research either in the class or through a video app, such as Flipgrid or Recap.
Visit Small Thing Big Idea on Facebook. This original TED series is designed to celebrate everyday objects that have made a big impact on the world around them.