Approaches to Astronomy
younger kids about the use of binary numbers in science and technology,
and then has them decode a message using a binary numbers code.
Flag for Mars:
discuss the symbolic meaning and history of flags on Earth, and
then design a flag for planet Mars, discussing what such a flag
might mean, and how has the right to "own" another planet like Mars.
this collaborative group activity, teams of students use the internet
to find moon myths in a number of cultures and then try to discern
the astronomy behind each myth. There is a section on researching
moon missions that just seems tacked on to curry favor with NASA.
brief calculation activity that helps students get a better feel
for large numbers by calculating times of past events in hours instead
of years. [e]
Terraform or Not to Terraform:
students in discussions, debates, writing projects, etc. focused
on the ethics of "invading" Mars with Earth organisms or even people,
especially given that Mars may at one time have developed life of
its own. [m,h]
also "Electromagnetic Radiation on Trial" in the Light
and Color section, and "Mars Quest" in the Planets
& Satellites: Specific Worlds section.
Some Activity Books That Can be Printed Out
guides are typically in "pdf" format, which means they require Adobe's
free Acrobat Reader software to print out. But this software is
easy to download (each site has instructions and links on how to
do it) and the books come out very nicely formatted. This is not
an exhaustive list, but can introduce you to some of the types of
materials that are available. Most of these were funded by NASA
(and suffer a bit from "NASA chauvinism", where mostly NASA-related
research and educational materials are thought worth mentioning.)
Mission Teacher Guide:
field test version with good activities and background information
about the Saturn system and the Cassini mission, which is scheduled
to enter Saturn orbit in 2004.
excellent K-6 curriculum addresses very basic ideas about light,
shadows, celestial motion, latitude and longitude, telling time,
and the seasons. It was developed by astronomers and educators at
the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and uses hands-on
on the Sky, Feet on the Ground:
the same group as "Everyday Classroom Tools", this book features
additional activities for kids on the Earth's motions, calendars,
maps, planets, and the Moon. The activities are divided into groups
by topic, and must be printed out a group at a time. A lot of thought
and care has gone into this project.
set of activities from NASA's Johnson Space Center, several of which
are included in the ASP's More
Universe at Your Fingertips.
the Moon Teacher's Guide:
good set of activities about the Moon and planetary geology.
Mission Activity Guide:
booklet of 12 brief activities, including several scale activities,
some physical modeling, and some calculations.
extensive curriculum on missions to Mars, developed by TERC (an
educational consulting firm) and Mars scientists at JPL. We have
listed some of the activities from this curriculum separately in
the Mars section, above.
Geology Teacher's Guide:
sets of activities and background information on the geology of
planets and satellites and how we explore other worlds.
Sunspots and Rotation:
short curriculum focusing on the Sun, with well-thought-out hands-on
activities. (One of these is featured in the ASP's More
Universe at Your Fingertips.)
activities and materials on space physics, and how we explore the
environment between planets, for grades 5 up.
Small in a Big Way:
related activities from the Stardust Mission (for grades 5-8).