With the launch today of the space shuttle Endeavour, children across the nation--and, indeed, the world--will renew their fascination with outer space. Full of natural curiosity to begin with, children love to wonder about what's out there.
Do you use your children's natural curiosity to engage them in conversations about space? You might be surprised the directions your discussions may take. From big dreams to practical science and math questions, outer space provides many opportunities to engage your children.
Wonderopolis offers a couple of new resources today. Check them out when you get a chance!
I found two incredible resources related to space exploration and had shared them in a science discussion earlier. I think they are worth mentioning here for parents to use with their children.
If you are looking for space exploration and wonderful visuals, check out Celestia , a free space simulation that lets you explore the universe in three dimensions. You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy.
Also, the companion website Celestia Motherlode features add-ons to Celestia and additional educational activities.
The program can be operated by children as young as six or seven.
What a great resource, Lynne!
I love exploring space with my kids using tools like this. Another one of their favorites is Google Earth's Mars viewer. Here's a video that gives some more information about it. Kind of neat to look for Martians with it! ;-)
Today is May 5, 2011.
Just 50 years ago on May 5, 1961, after Yuri Gagarin of the then-Soviet Union became the first person in space, NASA astronaut Alan Shepard stepped into our history books as the first American to fly in space. His historic flight lasted 15 minutes, 28 seconds.
I remember sitting at the breakfast table, listening to the radio, when I heard the announcement that the U.S.S.R. had successfully made a surprise launch of Sputnik 1. This first artificial satellite to orbit the earth was about the size of a basketball, but I watched through the eyes of a child hoping to see it in that night’s sky.
January 28. 1998, the U.S. rushed to launch Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite to orbit Earth. It was during this mission the Van Allen Radiation Belts were discovered.
The space race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R was on.
April 12. 1961 – Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. The U.S. took the challenge.
May 5, 1961, in the Freedom 7 spacecraft, Alan Shepard became the first American in space less than a month after Gagarin made his flight. Remember when astronauts were picked up in the ocean after splashdown.
February 20, 1962, John Glenn, piloted the Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first manned orbital mission. 30 years later he returned to space and became the subject of experiments on how weightlessness affected senior citizens.
June 16, 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly in space.
July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the surface of the moon and we still hear his (often misquoted) words, “That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.”
My grandmother said,
“I have lived from the days of horse and buggy to putting a man on the moon.
I have seen it all.”
June 29, 2001, Sally Ride became the first American woman to fly in space and she continues to inspire young girls to reach for the stars.
June 19, 1985, Christa McAuliffe became the first teacher in space, and we all watched the tragic explosion of the Challenger space shuttle on TV. Christa wrote on her astronaut application, “I watched the Space Age being born and I would like to participate.”
Be sure to share family stories with your children. We have lived through what they will only read in their history books. To continue to explore the love of space with your children, check out the official NASA website.
We have a collection of resources related to space: Celebrating Space Exploration!
Gravity Launch is one of our most popular interactive games. Kids get to virtually launch a rocket into space and see how the force of gravity can pull an object toward the earth and moon. There are several different levels and it gets harder and harder to hit the docking station.
In addition to the many great resources on space already mentioned in this discussion, parents may engage their children in several other space activities.
GeoHunter Science Science NetLinks 6-8
This interactive tool can be used to provide students with data about the geological structure of the planet Mercury.
Make a Mission Science NetLinks 6-12
This interactive tool can be used to explore the purpose and constraints of technology by preparing a spacecraft for a mission to Mercury.
Have fun exploring these activities with your children during the summer.
Lynne, thank you for highlighting our resources!
Louc, I'm glad you found Geohunter useful. Just so you know, both Geohunter and Make a Mission are also used in lessons:
Good luck on this rainy day!
Hey Lou! Here are a couple of previous Wonders of the Day that might interest students who love aliens and outer space:
Have a great day!
Lou, I'm assuming you mean videos since you mentioned Netflix. There are a few videos listed in our Celebrating Space Exploration collection:
50 Years in Space - NASA video celebrates a half century of the Space Age.
50 Years of Space—Two Pioneers Look Back - YouTube video by the European Space Agency looks 50 years of the space program.
New Moon: Reds Launch First Space Satellite - An old newsreel clip featuring an animation on the launch of Sputnik.
Space Race: The Untold Story - A companion website to National Geographic’s special on the space race.
I would also suggest checking out NASA Multimedia.
I hope that helps,
We don't have any related videos but we do have three Science Update podcast lessons:
SETI at Home Upgrade - SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is looking for more recruits to hunt for aliens with their home computers.
Life Light - The way light scatters off distant planets may reveal whether life exists on them.
Life from Space - Growing evidence suggests that life on earth may have been seeded from outer space.
Another fantastic resource I'd like to recommend is the Sizing Up the Universe tool. It is an interactive from the Smithsonian Institution that helps students develop an understanding of size and scale in our solar system. The univserse can seem so incomprehensibly large so this shrinks things down to a recognizable scale. If the Earth was the size of a brussels sprout, the Moon would be the size of a blueberry! And they would be sitting three feet away from each other on the table.
Where is the International Space Station right now?
Take a look at the ISS Astro Viewer that uses Google Maps to track the travel of the International Space Station. There are two maps featured on the ISS Astro Viewer. One map displays the current view of the Earth as you would see it from the ISS. The other map displays the current position of the ISS and its track relative to the Earth.
The site includes tabs for observation and additional links.
Many great suggestions here. I'm going to recommend a book for ages 9-12 (all ages really) by photographer/writer Michael Benson. It's called Beyond: A Solar System Voyage, published by Abrams.
It is not only a spectacular pictorial voyage through our solar system, but it is also a history of the missions which produced the stunning images.
I had to share this new resource I just found out about! It's called the Usborne Smarty Pants Summer Camp and this year the theme is Space Explorers Camp! This would be great for kids over the summer or for a science class!
Here are the details:
The Space Explorers Camp contains 8 missions covering 8 weeks. The first mission is getting ready, prepping an observation notebook and gathering supplies. The last mission is a wrap-up including a "Travel Guide to Space" brochure where kids showcase what they have learned.
Each mission is about three hours of "work". This can be broken up over several days or one assigned Science Day a week. It is designed to follow the inquiry learning process so there are several hands-on to help students explore each concept along with effective writing activities and creativity projects such as "holding a news conference after a rocket launch" and writing a song.
Each student would need his/her own notebook but the reference books can be shared. The three different levels have the same core experiments so a family with children of different ages does the same experiment but there are different questions for each age group to answer about the experiment, making this a very efficient, yet age-appropriate program!
If you are interested, I have a flyer I can send you! Just email me directly!
Have a great summer!
Have you ever wondered what an astronaut sees from outer space? What an Astronaut's Camera Sees is a You Tube video narrated by Dr. Justin Wilkinson from NASA. The video includes images of deserts in Africa, Sicily, the Kamchatka Peninsula, China, the Zagros Mountains, Australia, the Great Salt Lake, and the Andes Mountains. The landscapes were captured by astronauts using their digital cameras.
If you like this video, you may want to check out other You Tube videos included in the series Cosmic Journeys. You definitely want to watch Behind the Scenes on Endeavour's Final Flight that aired June 23, 2011.
What other videos from Cosmic Journeys would you recommend?
Did you see the launch of the Atlantis Space Shuttle July 8, 2011, as it left the Kennedy Space Center on its final 12-day mission to the International Space Station? This launch marks the end of the space shuttle program. You can watch this historic even at NASA's Multimedia Video Gallery.
Richard Byrne in his blog about free resources for educators has included resources for teaching children about the 30-year history of the shuttle program. These resources listed below would be a great way for parents to educate their children about space exploration.
Check out the NASA Planet Quest Historic Timeline. The timeline traces the history of astronomy and space exploration from the Greek philosophers through today.
As explained in Richard Byrne's blog, "Planet Quest is actually three timelines combined into one. The three timelines cover technology, discovery, and culture as it relates to astronomy and space exploration. Each element on the timeline is narrated. Users can select individual elements on the timeline or choose autoplay to hear the narration of each item in sequence."
What do you think of this NASA resource for children?
My 4 year old is fascinated by the planet comparisons interactive on Thinkfinity. Downloaded the NASA Astronauts App for her and can't wait to share this Wonderopolis wonder. The question becomes how do we keep the learning's going forward given the Space Shuttle program is no longer.
Fascination with this topic is not reserved only for the youngest students. These EDSITEment resources are geared to help older students understand Galileo's genius. To quote him:
"You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself.”
Galileo Project:The history of modern science reflected in the life of its practitioner.
The launch of NASA's GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) mission has been delayed until tomorrow.
"The twin spacecraft are now scheduled to begin their mission to the moon on Sept. 9, lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 17B aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II heavy rocket. There are once again two instantaneous (one-second) launch windows. Friday's launch times are 8:33:25 a.m. and 9:12:31 a.m. EDT.
GRAIL's primary science objectives are to determine the structure of the lunar interior, from crust to core, and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon."
For pictures, videos, and live launch coverage, visit GRAIL's multmedia page.
NASA's GRAIL mission has returned its first view of the far side of the moon.
"GRAIL MoonKAM will allow classrooms to request pictures of the lunar surface from cameras on the twin satellites. As we count down to the MoonKAM mission, we will be adding exciting features and resources to this site, including student activities, teacher guides, and more."
"A book, too, can be a star," ~ Madeleine L'Engle
EDSITEment has a new lesson which allows students to travel through space & time ~ beyond the stars!
Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time presents a not unusual girl—bright, angry, clever, lonely, and a little awkward—with an unusual passage to young adulthood. With the help of some friends, family, and strangers, Meg Murry travels through different dimensions to other planets to save her father; en route, Meg learns about her own humanity and the humanity of others.
This lesson invites Middle School students to reconfigure Meg’s journey into a board game where, as in the novel itself, Meg’s progress is either thwarted or advanced by aspects of her emotional responses to situations, her changing sense of self, and her physical and intellectual experiences.
NASA just announced a contest for students to name an asteroid:
The OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission is going to an asteroid to return a sample to Earth. Instead of traveling to asteroid 1999 RQ36, the asteroid’s current name, we’re asking youth under 18 for help to find a new name!
Contest starts Tuesday September 4, 2012. The deadline is Sunday December 2, 2012.
For contest rules, guidelines, and application visit: www.planetary.org/name
Want to chat with Buzz Aldrin? Check out the blog post AAAS ScienceLive Chat: Mission to Mars--With Special Guest Buzz Aldrin! in the Community Hub. Tomorrow, June 6th at 3:00pm EDT he will be discussing the challenges of traveling to Mars.
You might also enjoy this bibliography of space-related books that we put together for the Space Career Day we held recently at AAAS.
I'm glad to see this thread revived. Fascinating topic and resources in this discussion. I am now reading a neat non-fiction (informational text for grades 4 - 8) Looking for Life in the Universe: the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by Ellen Jackson (2002) A little out of my field as it is a crowd source selection for a new nonfiction bookshelf my agency is currently working up, but I can't put it down! It's an introduction to a dedicated astrophysicist, Jill Tarter, who is the director of Project Phoenix at SETI ("Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.") She was the model for the film adaptation of Carl Sagan's wonderful novel, Contact, that came out in the late 90's with Jodie Foster in the starring role. A great end of year flick to watch with your students and a great read for summer!
For those interested in careers relating to space science, check out Science NetLinks' Careers in Space Science. There are lots of jobs to do with space that don't involve being an astronaut, as the video here shows!
The video is of an event that was hosted for middle schoolers at AAAS in May, where four panelists who work in space science discuss their careers and how they got there. Here is a short interview with each of the panelists, and here is the video of the full event.