Children build and decorate a model rocket using oak-tag poster board for the rocket body, nose cone, and fins. A 35-mm film canister, which will later be filled with a fuel mixture of baking soda and vinegar, is the rocket's engine. The children launch their rockets.
Children can discover more about the physical principles of rocket propulsion and flight. In Part 2, children incrementally add more mass to their rockets to determine how this change affects the maximum height of their rocket's flight. They are also given the opportunity to explore the effects of different vinegar-baking soda fuel mixtures on the flight of their rocket.
Children brainstorm the factors affecting the speed at which a space capsule reaches the surface of a planet or moon and suggest how engineers might deal with each factor. They create a plan for a capsule that will protect an egg that is dropped from a height. Once their designs are complete and approved, they build their capsule from the materials provided. If time allows, they test this model and refine it. Once all models are finalized, each capsule is dropped from a high point. The group records the results of each drop and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each kind of design. The session ends by considering one or more thought questions.
Strange New Planet
Children ages 10 to 13 work in teams to collect data and plan missions to explore unknown worlds! The facilitator creates three "planets" out of clay decorated with craft items ahead of time. In this 45-minute activity, the planets are unveiled and teams send observers armed with "viewers" (paper towel tubes) to study them. The observers first view the planets from a distance to simulate observations by groundbased telescopes, then have opportunities to study them from increasingly closer distances during flybys and orbits. The teams use their collected information to plan lander and sample return missions.
Build a Colony
Children ages 8 to 13 consider the requirements for human life beyond Earth's protection: air to breathe, plentiful food, shielding from ultraviolet light, power, etc. They then work in teams to design and construct a complete space colony out of craft materials that would allow humans to survive the harsh environments of the Moon or Mars. Teams present their modules and colonies to one another and create a display for the library.
February 8, 2010