I just attended a conference in Phoenix which was strong on science. One of the things I attended, included information on various space craft and a bit on the actual astronauts.
As you know the first astronauts were actually rather small in they could not be over 5 foot 11 and could weigh no more than 180 lbs due to the size of the Mercury Capsule.
The capsule was only 6 ft 10 in tall and 6 ft 2.5 inches in diameter. I think it would be great to have students calculate the amount of volume in a cylinder of that size. I realize the capsule is not a cylinder but using a cylinder makes it easier. It gives an idea of the space an astronaut lived in for several days. It would not be that hard to have students create a cylinder out of construction paper or cardboard to provide a visual representation to give students a better idea of size.
Apollo 11 was a lot bigger at 10 ft 7 in by 12 ft 10 inches but it had three people instead of only one in the Mercury. Again, it is easy to have students calculate the volume but they could take it a step further to determine if the amount of space per person is the same or smaller? If it is less per person, they can calculate the percent difference with space per person.
If you want to take it further, look at the International Space Section which is 356 feet by 240 feet. What is the volume of this craft which houses up to 10 people at any one time. How many square feet are allowed per person and how does it compare to the mercury capsule?
I realize that the volume calculated for each space craft includes electronics, seats and other objects but I want to have students calculate volume, and space per person before having them brain storm on why just calculating volume per person can be slightly misleading. I want them to do research to see if they can find the information on the amount of space planned for the astronauts.
I am off to load. I am on my way to Puerto Rico and will be arriving there a bit later today. Have a good day.