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Frogs in Orbit

Book Program
Year Levels


‘Frogs in Orbit’ has been designed collaboratively between Ecolinc, the Victorian Space Science Education Centre (VSSEC) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), to engage and actively involve students in a study of frogs, both on Earth and in space. This online program has been developed for Years 5,6,8 and 9 as a standalone teaching tool, however may be adapted by teachers for a range of year levels.

In December 1990 six adult Japanese tree frogs were sent to the Mir Space Station for 8 days, as part of the Frogs in Space (FRIS) project, to observe and record their behaviour in microgravity. Assoc. Prof. Izumi-Kurotani (JAXA) has generously provided video footage and photographs for this program.

‘Frogs in Orbit’ is a hands-on program, which integrates Biology, Ecology and Physics. Activities may be used individually or as a complete unit.


In this program students will:

  • Investigate the anatomy and physiology of frogs.
  • Use identification keys and frog calls to identify frogs.
  • Explore frog conservation strategies.
  • Survey frog habitat sites.
  • Determine the requirements of frogs in space.
  • Explore the history of animals in space.
  • Investigate the ethics of animal research.
  • Determine methods for keeping animals in space.


Students will investigate the biological and ecological aspects of frogs on Earth, and the issues associated with living in space, using a series of online activities.

All teacher and student notes, PowerPoint presentations and instructions for practical activities are provided online.

The material presented will allow students to approach science issues from a wide range of vantage points.

The activities lead readily to open‐ended inquiry and self-directed learning, and offer the opportunity for extension, group and individual work.

Students will observe coordination and regulation of functions in animals and will make links across biotechnology (biology and chemistry); space science (physics and astronomy); neuroscience (psychology, biology and chemistry); resource management and green chemistry (chemistry and earth and environmental science); and habitat renewal (earth and environmental sciences and biology).


The program consists of nine lessons:

  1. Frogs – Anatomy and Physiology
  2. Frogs - Identification
  3. Frogs - Conservation
  4. Frogs – Habitat Survey
  5. Life in Space
  6. History of Animals in Space
  7. Ethics of Animal Research
  8. Keeping Animals in Space
  9. Frogs in Space


Students can interpret their results by completing the student worksheets provided.

Activities provide a strong basis for debate on science‐related issues that embrace a clear ethical dimension.

The use of frogs and other species for experimentation may be considered as a background for discussion of the ways in which science concepts, language and perspectives can be misunderstood and misrepresented.

Students can apply their understanding to the consideration of issues significant to themselves and to society including ecotourism, tourism in space, a clean and healthy environment, ethics and science research.