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Surfing the Solar System

Type of Activity:

  • Game

Brief description of the activity and its strengths:

In this treasure hunt game, from the "Family ASTRO" Project, players are given clues in words and pictures to worlds or features in the solar system. 


Course Level

Non-major courses


Type and level of course in which you would use this activity:

Introductory course for non-science majors in planetary astronomy. 

Skills and concepts that students should have mastered before beginning the activity:

Students should have gone through a typical introductory course on the planets.  

How the activity is situated in its course

This can serve as a review activity before the final exam or as part of a lab toward the end of the course.  I use it as a group activity in the lab.


Some years ago, with funding from the National Science Foundation, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific developed a program called Family ASTRO, which created kits of activities and games which families can do together and learn some astronomy.  Most of the games and activities are done in person, but this one activity is on line and is a treasure hunt of information about the solar system.


The game is self-evaluating.  There are hints built in along the way and you are told if your answer is incorrect.  At the end, the first letter of all the previous answers spells out the answer to the final puzzle.

Digital Object Identifier

Submitted By:

First Name:Andrew
Last Name:Fraknoi
Institution:Foothill College