Thursday, May 15, 2008

Learning about Space

Are you looking for resources or topic ideas for studying space?

Here's what our study on space has looked like. I'm doing this with a 1st and 3rd grader, but it could easily work well for grades 1-6. I do not believe it would work well with younger kids because most of these books would be too difficult for them. Many of them require additional explanation (simplifying it) for my 1st grader.

Here's a list of library books we've read so far:

Astronomy: Discoveries, Solar System, Stars, Universe (not finished yet)

Moon (Jump Into Science)

Space Flight (The Story of Flight)(not finished yet)

Where Are the Stars During the Day?: A Book About Stars (Discovery Readers)


The Librarian Who Measured the Earth

About Space (We Both Read)

The Best Book of the Moon (The Best Book of)

Reasons for Seasons

I hope to read these books before we move on to the next topic:

Comets and Meteor Showers (True Books: Space)

The Star People: A Lakota Story

The Moon (Starting with Space)*

The Sun (Starting with Space)*

The Hubble Space Telescope (True Books-Space)

Do Stars Have Points?: Questions and Answers About Stars and Planets (Scholastic Question & Answer Series)

Experiments With the Sun and the Moon (True Books)*

The Space Shuttle (True Books: Space)

Space Stations (True Books-Space)

* These books have experiments you can do with children. The weather hasn't been cooperating with us to do outside experiments and observations so we've been moving more slowly through our study and extending it out longer than we might have otherwise.

We also watched Apollo 13...twice.

For a field trip, we went to the Pacific Science Center. They have an astronomy section the includes:

a model of the solar system showing relative size of the planets to each other

a model showing the Sun full of Jupiters and one Jupiter full of Earths (shows relative size)

a hands on experiment showing how atmospheric winds (and lack of) affect landscape which explains why the moon still has Armstrong's boot print

a scale showing how much you'd weigh on different planets which leads to a discussion on exactly what do we mean by weight (defining mass and gravity)

a model of Gemini that kids can sit in

a planetarium show featuring well known constellations and they stories, which planets can be seen in the sky, the concept of light pollution, and how to read star charts

We also will be visiting the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry a little over 2 weeks and participating in one of their planetarium programs. This summer we hope to view the Perseids meteor shower and view the stars while camping.

Topics we'll have touched on in some way before we are finished:

some ancient beliefs about the sun, moon, stars, comets


names and order of the planets

classification of Pluto

the Sun

the Moon, tides

day, night, seasons, years



read a Native American constellation tale

orbits, gravity, using gravity to propel ships



Yuri Gagarin

John Glenn

Valentina Tershkova

Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin

the Space Race

Apollo program, Apollo 1 disaster, Apollo 13 near disaster


Space Shuttle (boosters, fuel tanks, orbiter, heat tiles, reusability)

Challenger, Columbia

Life in space, weightlessness, eating, peeing, space walking, muscle atrophy

space stations (Mir, Skylab, Salyut, International Space Station)

space probes (Phoenix Mars Lander touch down)



gallexies, black holes

Big Bang theory

Do I expect my kids to remember all of this? Of course not! The idea is that they've been exposed to a lot of information about space, they know there's a lot out there to know, the

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norman said...

You may wish to visit the Scott Crossfield Foundation for many resources about the first steps taken into space.