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Space Food

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Welcome to PLIX Space Food! Explore and create new inventions, experiences, and flavors to enhance the future of dining in outer space!

🥰 Ages 8+ 🕐 1–1.5 Hours 👩‍👧‍👦 up to 15 Participants 🍎 1–2 Facilitators 🎨 Craft Materials

Spaceflight is an adventure, but being so far away can be challenging. Astronauts have shared that familiar foods (eaten on Earth) can be a huge source of comfort in space. How can we meet the nutritional, performance-related, and emotional needs of astronauts, as well as future space travelers, through food?

Workshop Prompts & Gallery

A utensil set that easily attaches to spacesuits in zero-gravity environments and is self-cleaning to reduce the use of water onboard the ISS.
A utensil set that easily attaches to spacesuits in zero-gravity environments and is self-cleaning to reduce the use of water onboard the ISS.
A device that uses the cold temperatures of space to create pastry dough!
A device that uses the cold temperatures of space to create pastry dough!
Space chopsticks—for easy food-grabbing when objects float away in zero-gravity!
Space chopsticks—for easy food-grabbing when objects float away in zero-gravity!
A scent-creator that produces earthly scents (the smell of grass, rain, and home baked goods) for astronauts!
A scent-creator that produces earthly scents (the smell of grass, rain, and home baked goods) for astronauts!

Prompts from PLIX

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Adapt your favorite recipe or cooking ritual to a zero-gravity environment. Write down the recipe (including ingredients, and general steps for preparation: as much of it as you can remember). What need to be changed for the space environment? Create a version of that recipe that is modified for preparation by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
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Design a kitchen tool or appliance that makes it easier for astronauts to cook or dine on the ISS. You can also make packaging for it and give it a name. Think of how you would market or sell this product: write a script for a commercial for advertising your newly designed kitchenware.
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Film an episode of a cooking show for astronauts. Come up with recipes that you can teach astronauts that use new techniques or methods for preparing recipes currently unavailable on the ISS.
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For older learners (middle and high school): Speculate about what inventions or processes would help achieve a sustainable, closed-loop food system onboard the ISS (perhaps ones that reduce waste, reuse water, or leverage recyclable/recycled materials). Sketch tools or recycling systems that allow astronauts to turn food waste into useful materials!

PLIX Community Remixes

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Check out more examples and experiences from other librarians on the PLIX Forum Space Food space or share your own ideas via our PLIX Remix report form.

Materials

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Supply Kit

Below you'll find some materials that we've found work well for this activity, but it's not necessary to have them all!

Folded & assembled Space Food zines 1 per participant
Considerations for Dining in Space printouts 1 half sheet per participant
Cardboard, popsicle sticks, paper straws, plastic/bamboo eating utensils
Aluminum foil, metallic foil paper
Metallic washi tape or duct tape
Play dough/modeling clay
Springs, bubble wrap, nylon screws
Plastic lab droppers (graduated pipettes)
Jumper pin wires for breadboards and arduinos
Tubing wire, green or yellow elastic tubing
Hook & loop (Velcro) dots

Printouts

Zine ↓

PLIX-Space-Food-Zine_v1.0.pdf1796.3KB
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PLIX zines are a supplementary resource for patrons and librarians to refer to. Use this guide to cut and assemble them on 8.5x11" paper.

Considerations for Dining in Space ↓

PLIX-Space-Food_Considerations-for-Dining-in-Space_v0.1.pdf142.8KB
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Facilitation

Playtest and Plan

Remember: There’s no one right way to prepare for a workshop. Use these steps as a loose guideline for planning to run this activity.

  1. Choose one of our prompts, or come up with a prompt that suits your library community. Our activity guides are for getting you started—feel free to change or create new design elements to suit your local community! All PLIX activity guides are designed for a minimum of 1–2 facilitators
  2. Gather materials and print out the zine.
  3. Make an example project. Try it out with friends and colleagues. Thoughtfully incomplete, good examples feature a variety of approaches and starting points. Use them to inspire learners to make something uniquely their own. Guide to Making Activity Examples
  4. Try the activity with your patrons. Set a date and time. Easily promote your workshop with our ready-made graphics → COMING SOON!
  5. Populate your workshop space with diverse example projects. Create and play together!
  6. Reflect on what you’ve done and consider doing a remix!
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Check out this thread on the PLIX forum for examples exploring kitchen tool design for use aboard the ISS, with contributions from the PLIX community!

Facilitation Tips

By design, this activity invites learners to creatively speculate the future of dining and well-being in outer-space environments. Since there are many ways to explore space food, patrons may need some guidance in how or where to get started. When facilitating this activity, we encourage you to support a tinkering mindset, and consider the following to culture a creative learning environment. In addition, check out our general PLIX Facilitation Techniques

🦃 Feast on a universe of traditions when you frame the activity

If there’s an upcoming food-related holiday (or any holiday that involves patrons preparing one of their favorite meals), ask participants to design a way that astronauts could celebrate. Or, ask participants to think about their own family’s food traditions and how to transport these to a space context. Have a wide variety of materials to encourage divergent thinking. Provide inspiring images of astronauts eating in space, and liquids on the loose.

🍎 Dish out a hot menu of diverse example projects and creative juices will flow

We’ve provided some examples of projects that indicate different directions the project can be taken. The examples outlined connect to a few major themes you might choose to explore with your patrons that engage important questions about life in outerspace. Utensil design is a great way to get the creative juices flowing, since you can think about small adaptations that you can make to utensils we use every day (forks; spoons; chopsticks; spatulas; whisks). You can also explore tools to augment astronaut well-being, like the scent-creator we showed, which doesn't necessarily involve food, but rather the design of environments or atmospheres which remind astronauts of home.

🍭 Serve snacks for hacking

If running an in-person workshop, bring along some snacks that might inspire ways that patrons are thinking about flavors, packaging, and food preparation. For example, in workshops we've run, we've brought along pop rocks, moon cheese, powdered drink mix, astronaut ice cream (which isn't actually eaten by astronauts!), hot sauce, etc. Freeze dried snacks work great, since they illustrate the types of foods that astronauts are already eating, but also bring some food items that don't translate so easily (something fermented, like miso or kombucha, or something that produces a lot of crumbs, like potato chips!).

👅 Do some taste tests along the way

The program could be divided into different meal courses, when check-ins and share-outs could happen. For example, a short warm-up as an appetizer, and then you as the maitre d’ of the space food restaurant can check in with each of the chefs / food scientists on what they've come up with so far. Some clarifying questions you could ask include: how would this be cooked, if at all? What is something that is causing you trouble? What would you like us to notice about your design / recipe?

👯 Table for two? Peers on a shared mission

Pair up your participants so they can share what they are working on. Alternatively, arrange the room as a Space Fare Fair where those who are tackling similar challenges can find one another, designating different tables / areas as “packaging innovation”, “taste lab”, “table-less tools”, etc.

🚀 Take your time and let go

NASA astronauts can tell you that zero gravity can take getting used to. Creative learning is a new way to facilitate, and it’ll take some time to get your space legs without the pull of a structured, step-by-step workshop to moor your feet.

What We ❤️ About This Activity

🔭 Offers a non-technical entry point for engaging with outer space By emphasizing the social and cultural aspects of spaceflight, this activity invites learners of all backgrounds to get started with design for outer space environments.

👪 Encourages collaboration and co-design Patrons are encouraged to work together to think through designs, communicate ideas, and share their inventions.

🗺️ Supports multi-cultural dialogue Through the sharing of recipes and culinary traditions, this activity shines a spotlight on the lived experience of patrons.

♻️ No new materials required The space food workshop prompts can be easily run with on-hand or leftover craft materials and/or recyclables.

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Dive deeper into creative learning facilitation with our Self-Guided Mini Course. It’ll also help you get started running your first PLIX workshop.

About PLIX Space Food

This activity was developed in collaboration with Maggie Coblentz, an industrial designer and space food researcher who works with the MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative.

Other ways to engage with the PLIX Space Food program

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