We had a great week exploring space and learning what it takes to be an astronaut. We changed some of the activities from NASA’s Mission X to design a different exercise activity for each day of camp. We had a supply run relay, a hopping challenge, a balance challenge and more.
We also learned a bit about what it is like in space. We explored the cold of dry ice and how the cold can change some items, making them more brittle. We discovered we could boil water at room temperature and blow up a marshmallow in a vacuum chamber. We played with the way light moves through lenses and prism, and played with shadows to reflect on the darkness of space. We also made jewelry with some UV sensitive beads since space is full of radiation.
After learning about space, we learned a little about stars. We created our own images of nebulae, and made a layered image to represent the method NASA uses to layer on colors we can’t see to create images of the fuller spectrum seen in the nebula. We learned that stars combine elements to create a new element using nuclear fusion and modeled it with marshmallows. We looked at a flame to see which colors burn the hottest, and used that knowledge to infer which color stars are the hottest.
From stars, we moved onto planets. We created a size comparison of the Earth and the sun, using Cheerios to represent the diameter of the Earth. The students guessed how many Earths would fit across the Sun, then we created a model with all 109. We used various fruits and a measuring tape to create a model of the solar system, modeling the size and distance between the planets. For our model, we let 1 foot represent 1 AU (astronomical unit). We also did a little planetary yoga to help reinforce an interesting fact about each planet in the solar system. We created our own models to mimic the way the Earth revolves around the Sun while the moon revolves around the Earth. Then we designed our own planets.
We ended the week with a lot of robots and building. The students designed rovers and experimented with moving them using VEX robotics kits.
This week was special in that we also offered a nighttime experience. We discussed some of the best meteor showers to watch later in the year but set up a telescope to try to explore the night sky one night this week. The students made their own telescopes, read constellation stories and built their own constellations.