We read about Mars awhile ago (from the book Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright), but the hands-on took longer to get to, with being sick, Easter, and really, not wanting to (on my part). But, we made it through and are now about to start our hands-on with space rocks so that will come shortly. The boys seemed to enjoy Mars. They think it is neat that it looks red (we have done a little sky viewing of course!), and they were mesmerized when we read and talked about moving to Mars. I heard many stories about what they would or would not take, what their house would like, and so on. Mars sure is great for the imagination, isn't it?
Our activities, in no particular order on the fun scale:
If you have done the whole baking soda/vinegar trick with kids (in volcano form or not), you know this never gets old. Again, that was proved with this hands-on activity. First, the kids created the solar system's largest volcano, Olympus Mons, which is found on the planet Mars. After it dried sufficiently, we added the secret ingredients and off they went with the experiment!
**Warning!** If you decide to do this activity, plan it for a nice day outside! Really, it was not too bad, but I would have preferred the grass and a hose. Lay a layer of nice fluffy flour on a jelly roll (I used cornstarch) and top it with cocoa powder to give it that Marsy look, and to "see" how the meteorites impact the surface. Use dried beans for the meteorites, warm up your arm, and away you go! The kids loved this - the splattering, the dustiness, the messiness, the throwing. You cannot go wrong with this one!
The kids liked this, but for me, it was a flop. Mostly because I had to do 99% of the work. It's not that I am lazy - I want the kids to get their hands-on and hearts in our projects. This did not do it for me. If you do decide to do it, make sure you have a long string to race on. As always, keep balloons away from little ones (they always make me nervous!).
One last activity I had planned to do, but ended up dropping so we could move on, dealt with exploring Mars by building your own Pathfinder and simulating its landing on Mars. The supplies are pretty simple, and I am sure the kids would have loved it, but somehow gathering momentum for this one did not happen. If we had done it? My guess? Our eggs would have broken with the first drop, but maybe not...
Coming soon... Space Rocks!