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Carl Sagan once claimed that the most important lesson we learn from studying the stars is perspective. To address this concept, this activity offers a scale model of the solar system to be evaluated. There are many versions of solar system scale... (View More) models available; this one is unique for its large scale chosen, the quality of the scaled objects, and the supplementary materials and information provided. The model is extended to include interaction and discovery on the part of learners, and suggested extensions. The set of materials includes a book about the solar system, developed from NASA's "From Earth to the Solar System" (FETTSS) imagery, and appropriate for use with the model. (View Less)
Learners create rocky planets out of playdough, and then learn about distances in our Solar System by placing them the correct distance apart. This activity was designed for use in a library program.
This is a demonstration about the density of the planets. Learners will compare the relative sizes and masses of scale models of the planets as represented by fruits and other foods. They will then dunk the "planets" in water to highlight the fact... (View More) that even a large, massive planet - such as Saturn - can have low density. They discuss how a planet's density is related to whether it is mainly made up of rock or gas. This activity is part of Explore! Jupiter's Family Secrets, a series designed to engage children in space and planetary science in libraries and informal learning environments. (View Less)
Learners will shrink the scale of the solar system to the size of their neighborhood and compare the relative sizes of scale models of the planets, two dwarf planets, and a comet as represented by fruits and other foods. This activity requires... (View More) access to a large indoor or outdoor space (measuring at least 190 feet wide) where the children can model the orbit of Mercury around the Sun. It is part of Explore! Jupiter's Family Secrets, a series designed to engage children in space and planetary science in libraries and informal learning environments. (View Less)
Students are introduced to the periodic table and the concept of atomic elements. The group discusses how all material in the Universe is composed of elements and that the atom is the smallest particle that still has the physical and chemical... (View More) properties of any given element. As an exercise in statistics, the students participate in a counting experiment in which they sample a 'Universe bead mix' (where each bead color represents a different element present in the Universe) to estimate the overall composition of the Universe. They compare their findings of the Universe's overall composition with the composition of various different objects in the Universe that are represented by mixtures of rice, beans and other dried goods in jars. Finally, students are introduced to the idea that hydrogen fusion creates heavier elements inside a star. This activity is part of a series that has been designed specifically for use with Girl Scouts, but the activities can be used in other settings. Most of the materials are inexpensive; however, some portions of the preparation can be time intensive. It is recommended that a leader with astronomy knowledge lead the activities, or at least be available to answer questions, whenever possible. (View Less)