Houston, We’ve Had a Problem

The problem could have turned fatal. The solution was created from a handful of “household” items. There’s a message in it for educators.

When you listen to the original audio, you’ll hear the sense of calm that prevailed.

The incident started with a loud bang, and the crew initially thought they struck a meteoroid. After inspecting, they understood there was an explosion, the oxygen tank ran dry, and fuel cells were shutting down.

Essentially, the crew on Apollo 13 were about 5 hours from the moon and needed a solution.

The transmission to Earth began,

“Okay Houston, we’ve had a problem here…Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

No experts were called in. The experts were already on the team. The team was gathered prior to the problem arising. The collective efficacy of the team was all that was needed.

It took less than two minutes of troubleshooting, and the crew understood the problem:

“Okay, Houston. I’m showing—I tried to reset and fuel cell 1 and 3 are both showing gray flags, but they are both showing zip on the flows.”

Houston immediately requested the crew to begin a series of A/B Testing to find a solution. The transmission from Apollo 13 was simple:

“Okay, I’ll get to work on that.”

Again, it didn’t take meetings, committees, and endless data analysis. Frankly, they didn’t have that time.

They had a problem and acted.

Action brought the solution. It allowed them to understand the problem, create a solution, and implement the solution.

The results spoke for themselves.

What lesson can we learn from Apollo 13 as educators?
Photo Credit: By NASA – http://grin.hq.nasa.gov/

Data analysis and meetings are two more ways for great intentions to lose focus with the allure of sophistication.