Don’t let nebulous ideas slow you down as you count down to this October’s World Space Week. Rather, shoot for the moon with these astronomical activities for celebrating World Space Week with your class or family.
Rendezvous with the International Space Station
Take this week to celebrate global cooperation in the near reaches of space by learning about the International Space Station (ISS). Check out the view from the space station. Get kids outside on a clear evening to look for the space station passing overhead. Visit NASA’s Spot The Station site to find when to view the ISS from your location. Screen a few of NASA’s Human Research Program videos with your students or read about Sleeping on the Space Station with this worksheet.
The Red Planet continues to capture headlines and our imaginations. Take advantage of student interest in our planetary neighbor by exploring what we know about Mars. Have students participate in the Planet Four: Terrains citizen science project by examining and mapping images of Mars. Control a virtual rover with Experience Curiosity. Find more Mars-related games and activities at NASA’s Mars Exploration site and try our reading passages, Earth vs. Mars and One-Way Ticket to Mars.
To the Moon
The Apollo days have pasted, but the Moon is likely to soon be a stepping stone for human missions to Mars. Read about Moon exploration plans, then launch into a Moon unit. No need to don a spacesuit, rather bring a piece of the Moon to your classroom with the Lunar and Meteorite Sample Disk Program. Educator’s must be located in the United States and go through a certification process, but the effort will be well worth it! Kick off your unit with this Moon Surface Features lesson and navigate the surface with Google Moon.
Escape with Science Fiction
Read classic or modern science fiction with your students. Go beyond what is scientifically accurate or misrepresented and discuss themes as well as what the story conveys about society, both real and fictional. Use Help Teaching’s Science Fiction Literature worksheets and Elements of Science Fiction lesson as a starting point. Then, ask your students to put on their creative thinking helmets and write a piece of science fiction. Here are some writing prompts worksheets to get you started:
Kindergarten and 1st Grade:
My Space Adventure
If I Were an Alien
Journey Into Space
Alien Welcome Committee
My Trip Into Space
4th and 5th Grade
One Way Ticket to Mars
Finally, decelerate by watching a sci-fi movie! Perhaps your high school students will enjoy the interplanetary adventure The Martian.
Visit an Observatory
If you have access to a telescope, World Space Week is a great time to use it! Students may not have ever had the opportunity to actually observe planets, stars, or the Moon up-close through a telescope. If your school has a telescope, plan an viewing party with students and families. If you don’t have access to a telescope, some libraries offer telescope lending or viewing opportunities. Likewise, many observatories offer public viewing options and accommodate student field trips. To find a local observatory, check with nearby universities or try one of these publicly accessible telescopes.
If you’re still in need of fun ways to celebrate World Space Week, sojourn to the World Space Week website and download one of the educator resource guides or locate a nearby event for more out of this world activities!