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Mission Patch:

Activity Guide

Space Academy for Educators


Objectives:
Trainees will understand how the idea of mission patches came about.
Trainees will understand the purpose of mission patches.
Trainees will create a team mission patch.
Materials:

Logbook mission patch page


Mission patch PowerPoint or Mission Patch Handbook book
Scrap paper
Card stock paper
Markers, colored pencils

Activity Procedure:
Focus: Ask trainees what comes to mind when they think about knights. What
do they envision knights wearing when they go to battle? (Silver armor) If they
are engaged in battle with silver armor, how could they identify who they should
fight and who they shouldnt? Answer: Knights had crests on their shields. This
emblem was used to help in identification. This is an example of how mission
patches got their start.

How NASA patches evolved: The first astronauts were military men with extensive
flight experience. Pilots were accustomed to naming their airplanes, so in the
Mercury program, astronauts named their capsule. Gordon Cooper, who flew
the last Mercury mission, had a difficult time getting NASA to approve his
capsule name Faith 7. They were worried that if something bad happened to
him during the flight, the headlines in the paper might read, America Loses
Faith. On the first Gemini mission, Gus Grissom had chosen a capsule name
that also displeased NASA. He chose to name his capsule Molly Brown after
the Broadway show The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Grissoms choice of Molly
Brown triumphed over his second name choice of Titanic. It was after
Grissoms Gemini flight that capsules officially could no longer be given a name.
The astronauts that followed after the first manned Gemini flights wanted some
way to personalize their mission. The second manned Gemini crew, who flew

the Gemini 4 mission, wore an American flag on the left arm of their suit. Then,
the idea of allowing astronauts to create and wear a personalized mission
patch came about. (Souvenir companies or other individuals designed patches
for Mercury flights, but those patches were made after those missions were
flown.) Gemini 5 became the first crew to have a personal mission patch. (Turn
to mission patch page in logbook to view Gemini 5 patch.) Cooper and
Conrad chose to put a Conestoga wagon on their patch. Why do you think
they did that? (Represented pioneering spirit) Explain the 8 days or bust story.
After Gemini 5, all other astronauts assigned to a mission have been given an
opportunity to design and give input on the patch that will represent their
mission.

Other mission patch examples: Discuss other patch examples in logbook. Some
astronauts have chosen to have artists assist in the designing of the patch.
Besides just symbolic pictures on the patch, astronauts sometimes use colors to
represent some ideas. For example, navy blue is used sometimes to represent
the idea of deep space.

Activity: Explain to the trainees that they, just many the astronauts, will design a
mission patch to represent their team and mission here at space camp. The first
thing they should do is decide what shape they want the patch to be. Next,
decide what things they want to include on the patch to represent the people
on their team and their week here at space camp. When the patch is finished,
it should remind whoever looks at it of the friends on their team and what space
camp meant to them.
There are several ways to conduct the activity at this point. As a counselor, get
a feel for which of the suggestions below would best suit your team.
o Option #1: (Suggested for teams that will not get along) Have each
trainee sketch a patch in his/her logbook. Keep reminding the trainee
that this sketch does not have to be perfect. Its just to give everyone an
idea of what you are thinking about. After trainees are finished, the
sketches should be placed in the middle of the group. The counselor will
put a number on each of the sketches. Then, allow each student to
briefly explain his/her patch. Have trainees tear off a piece of paper and
write down their favorite 2 mission patches. Each trainee should do this
secretly, folding up the paper and giving it immediately to the counselor.
The counselor will tally up the votes to decide the winning patch sketch.
Finally, the group should decide who they would like to draw and color
the patch. If they cant reach a decision on who will draw the patch,
conduct another vote.

o Option #2: (Suggested for teams that have problems working together)
Have each trainee sketch a patch in his/her logbook. Keep reminding
the trainees that this sketch does not have to be perfect. Its just to give
everyone an idea of what you are thinking about. After trainees are
finished, the sketches should be placed in the middle of the group. Allow
trainees to explain their patches. Have trainees discuss what they like on
some of the patches that they think would be good to have on their final
patch. If they cant all agree on what they want on their final patch,
allow each trainee to choose something from his/her patch to be placed
on the final patch. Then, the group should decide who will draw the
patch. If they cant decide that, then conduct a vote.
o Option #3: (Suggested for those teams that get along well.) Have each
trainee sketch a patch in his/her logbook. Keep reminding the trainees
that this sketch does not have to be perfect. Its just to give everyone an
idea of what you are thinking about. After trainees are finished, the
sketches should be placed in the middle of the group. Have trainee led
discussions and questions about the patches to determine what they
want their final design to look like. Let them decide who will draw and
color.
o Option #4: (Suggested for mature teams that work great together.) Allow
them to make their decisions on their own. It may not be necessary for all
of them to sketch a patch. They may just wish to discuss ideas to come
up with a patch for their team.

Closure: Why do you think this is a good activity for astronauts? (build teamwork,
create unified mission)Whether the team wins best mission patch or not does not
determine if the team has created a great patch. As long as the teams patch
serves as a constant, positive reminder of the people and cool memories of their
camp experience, it is a great patch!
Please make sure area is cleaned up before leaving. If the patch needs to be
worked on at a later time, give the patch paper to the counselor. Whoever is
drawing the patch can get the paper from the counselor at another convenient
time(s).

References:
Revision History:
May 2015 SEA update from old files: Andrea Tribo

Copyright (May, 2015) by the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission. All rights
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