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Desolation: STEM Earthbound and Down™ Mass Driver


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Grade 6 and up. The Desolation: STEM series compels students to solve problems through a hands-on process involving design, development, evaluation, and improvement. The captivating story and engaging hands-on activities in the Desolation: STEM Earthbound and Down™ Mass Driver kit connect students with energy conversion, motion in 2-D, inductance, capacitance, magnetic fields, the right-hand rule, modeling, and engineering.

Note: To provide the most up-to-date information on Desolation products, all the instructional material (teacher's manual, student guides, and supplemental resources) are online only. Each kit contains a special access code and instructions on how to retrieve the online resources. This kit requires the Audacity® sound recording and analysis tool from CrosscuttingConcepts.com downloadable resources area. Refer to the instructional video found there for a walkthrough on how to use this software. You may also download the firing stand guide in case it is necessary to rebuild the stand if the original is damaged during use.

In the year 2040, the world's energy crisis has been mitigated. Nuclear fusion reactors power the electrical grid. The source of a critical element for fusion, helium-3, is the moon. Government oversight of helium-3 mining operations is a hotly contested issue in the international community. With the world on the brink of war, all travel to and from the moon has been suspended indefinitely.

Four lunar miners from the High Altitude Work Corporation (HAWC) are trapped at the moon's South Pole in a malfunctioning outpost with only their equipment, emergency rations, and problem-solving skills to survive desolation.

The HAWC team needs to launch helium-3 shipments from the moon to earth without using dangerous and expensive rocket propulsion systems. Team members form a lunar construction crew to build a state-of-the-art mass driver to accommodate those shipments. With this kit, students take on the role of the HAWC engineering team tasked with designing and testing the mass driver to achieve this goal.

Desolation: STEM Earthbound and Down™ Mass Driver Experiments

  • Design, build, and test a mass driver
  • Map the flow of energy through the system as the energy is converted from 1 form to another
Learning Objectives
  • Understand the difference between potential, kinetic, magnetic, and electrical energy
  • Develop an understanding of the law of conservation of energy and be able to explain why energy conversion processes are not 100% efficient
  • Create a model for projectile motion in 2-D
  • Understand the 3 laws of motion
  • State and use Ohm's law to solve electrical circuit problems
  • Demonstrate understanding of linear and nonlinear functions
  • Use the right-hand rule to draw magnetic forces in a line, ring, and coil
  • Design and construct an electromagnetic coil and use the coil in a mass driver
  • Map the flow of energy through the mass driver while maintaining an energy balance
  • Calculate the efficiency for transferring electrical energy into kinetic energy for a model mass driver


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