Space

Hello and welcome to week 2! How did you get on with Week 1?

This week is all about SPACE – it’s something that all children (and adults!) seem fascinated with and so I’ve tried to come up with a range of activities that will cater to most age ranges – although if you’re not sure how to tailor an activity for your age range please let me know!

As always, I’m providing you with building blocks – ideas to get you started – so by all means please do let your children lead the learning and ask ANY questions. Google will know the answer if you don’t – so don’t be afraid to find out. Let me know if you discover anything interesting!

Finally, before we start, remember you can use the STEM Bingo chart this week too.

STEM Bingo chart
Click to download

Space Facts

  • Space is completely silent (there is no atmosphere so sound has no medium to travel)
  • A full NASA space suit costs $12,000,000
  • The footprints on the moon will be there forever (with no wind or rain to remove them)
  • One day on Venus is longer than one year on Venus! (Venus has a slow axis rotation (so it turns slowly – taking 243 days to make 1 rotation (ie 1 Venus day)) whereas it takes only 225 days to orbit the Sun (ie 1 Venus year) – therefore a year on Venus is 18 days shorter than a day on Venus!
  • The moon was once a piece of the Earth
  • Mercury & Venus are the only 2 planets in our solar system that have no moons
  • There are 79 known moons orbiting Jupiter
  • Earth is the only planet not named after a God
  • The Sun and Moon’s gravitational pull creates Earth’s tides
  • 1 season on Uranus lasts 21 Earth years
  • Pluto is smaller than the United States
  • Neptune’s moon Tritan orbits the planet backwards
  • There are more stars in space than grains of sand on the Earth
Absolutely brilliant video showing you just how insignificant we are

Amazing Space Videos

Activity 1

General Relativity

Lets get right into the physics of it all and explore general relativity – right in your livingroom or back garden.

You will need:

  • Sheet (bedsheet or large sheet of material)
  • Balls of varying sizes
  • Several members of the family
Demonstrating general relativity at our outdoor STEM classes in Scotland

Instructions

Standing, hold the sheet tightly between as many participants as you can find and state that ‘This is the fabric of space’ – and then roll the largest ball onto the sheet – and discuss what you observe. The mass of the ball is bending the fabric – just as the mass of a planet bends the fabric of space. This is Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

If you add another ball (smaller) and try to roll it around the larger ball, you’ll notice that it too is affected by the gravity of the larger ball as well as bending the material of space ever so slightly. This is similar to the effect that Earth and our Moon have on each other.

Activity 2

The Planets

Lets explore the order and differing sizes of the planets in our solar system. Whilst you probably don’t have a ball small or large enough to represent to scale the varying planets, you can have a go exploring the range of sizes and learning the order of our planets.

Check out the weeSTEMs Facebook page later in the week for a collaboration with Tinker Minds who will talk you through making a 3D to-scale model!

You will need:

  • 9 balls of varying sizes
Teaching all about the Solar System at home through homemade STEM lessons

Instructions

Use the largest ball to represent the Sun. Either place it in the centre or at the beginning of your line. Now have a play about with sizes and see if you can guess the order and size order of the planets. Once you’ve had a play, check your accuracy below:

Planet Order from the Sun:

  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Earth
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • Uranus
  • Neptune

Smallest to Largest

  • Mercury
  • Mars
  • Venus
  • Earth
  • Neptune
  • Uranus
  • Saturn
  • Jupiter

Can you create a pneumonic (a catchy rhyme or memorable phrase) to help you remember the order of the planets? Share your pneumonics over on the weeSTEMs Facebook page.

Activity 3

Solar System Coordinates

You will need:

  • Coordinates printout (see download link below)
  • Pens/pencils/crayons
Solar System coordinates worksheet for STEM learning

Instructions

Draw different planets in different boxes and then test a partner to read the coordinates of each planet.

Alternatively, you could draw planets on a separate piece of paper and cut them out and then place them onto the grid – therefore after each game you can easily change the grid reference of each planet.

Another way to play with a partner could be to each have a coordinates sheet and hide it from each other and one of you has the grid references whilst the other has to listen carefully and place/draw the correct planet in the correct coordinate.

Activity 4

Days and Nights

The passing of time is something that’s fascinated humans for millennia – and children aren’t immune to the draw of the elusiveness of time. In this simple and fun experiment you can show and discuss where day and night comes from – it’s not actually the sun going to bed!

You will need:

  • Torch (phone torch will do!)
  • Ball
  • Dark room

Instructions

Stand in a dark(ish) room shining the torch straight ahead whilst another person slowly spins the ball (or themselves holding the ball) to demonstrate the Earth rotating.

It takes the Earth one day (actually 23 hours and 56 minutes) to rotate (spin around) once.

It takes 365.256 days to make one orbit around the sun.

You could also discuss the tilt of the Earth – hence why we get longer days in summer and shorter days in winter.

Activity 5

Meteorite Magnifying

You will need:

  • Pens/paint/crayons
  • Black stone/black sock/small black object
  • Ruler/measuring tape
  • Microscope (or toilet roll holder)
Rock investigation for little STEM learners exploring stones and meteorites

Instructions

Use your imagination for this one and go on a meteorite hunt. Once you discover the small black rock (it can be a balled-up black sock, or even coloured piece of paper) take it back to your lab and scrutinize it under your microscope (if you haven’t got a real one then simply design and make your own using a toilet roll holder). Record the rock’s properties and compare it to Earth rocks – is it softer, larger, smoother etc?

This is a great excuse to explore loads of mathematical language – you could weigh the rocks if you’ve got scales, otherwise simply compare the weights (ie this one is heavier than the other). Measure using standard units (eg a ruler or measuring tape) or non-standard units (use a finger/stick/leaf to measure and compare the lengths).

Here is an example form for serious scientists requiring to record their results (the bottom two boxes have been left blank for your field notes):

Activity 6

Solar System maths

A fun and engaging way to practise your numbers and dice recognition (which is a key skill).

You will need:

  • Dice
  • Paper
  • Pens/pencils/crayons/paint
  • A4 polypocket (optional)
  • Playdough (see recipe here if you need some)
How to use playdoh to do Solar System maths

Instructions

Draw the milky way on your piece of paper (can be as large and as fancy as you like – add glitter for added fabulousness) and insert the paper into the A4 polypocket (simply to protect it – if you don’t have these it doesn’t matter at all. Alternatively you could laminate it to help it last longer, however again this isn’t necessary).

Depending on the age and abilities of your children use the dice to determine how many planets to add to your solar system. Create planets by rolling different sizes of playdough into ball-shapes. Options to create numbers are:

  • Roll the dice and add planets for the number shown (ie if you roll a 3 then add 3 playdough planets to your Milky Way)
  • Roll the dice twice and ADD the numbers together to create a total number of planets
  • Roll the dice twice and MULTIPLY the numbers to create a total number of planets
  • Create your own formula (eg Roll the dice 3 times and multiply 2 of the numbers and subtract 1 for the total)
  • Once you have loads of planets you could then begin using the dice to determine the number if planets to remove (subtract) from your solar system

Activity 7

Design a Mars Rover

You will need:

  • Lego or Duplo or any building blocks
  • Paper
  • Pens/pencils
Lego Mars rover challenge using STEM skills

Instructions

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to design a Mars Rover robot capable of driving over rough terrain and photographing different sections of Mars.

Draw a plan of the Mars Rover design before you start building the model. Annotate your diagram and explain any special features.

Activity 8

Solar System Coding

Visit the link below to have a go at some Solar System coding – it’s a fun and interactive way to get children started in learning how to code.

Solar System coding

Family STEM Learning

This week your family challenge is to design and create a Space Lander. Each participant can choose their own resources, however the aim is to each build a landing vehicle that can house 3 astronauts (3 mini-marshmallows) and safely land them back to Earth (the ground) from Space (high up).

You might need a range of:

  • Paper/card/recycled cardboard
  • Pens/pencils
  • Paper/plastic cup
  • Mini-marshmallows (or small scrumples of paper)
  • Straws
  • Sellotape/string
  • Scissors
  • Plastic bags
How to make a homemade space lander - fun family STEM learning

Good luck! I hope you have great fun this week! Looking forward to hearing and seeing all of your activities!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: