Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zooming with Space Rocks

Today we wrapped up our lesson on space rocks from Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright. After spending time reading all about space rocks and having the kids work on their lapbook/notebook, we were ready for some hands-on activities!

I must say, I initially had no idea what to do. The book's suggestion was to create a scale model of the solar system. That had nothing to do with space rocks (unless you added the asteroid belt to your model), and besides, we had already created our own version in sidewalk chalk during our first lesson of astronomy. After digging a little deeper, I was able to find some fun ideas.

A Meteorite Board Game - Originally I wanted to recreate this outside with some sidewalk chalk (for the giant game effect) but weather kept us indoors, and so I recreated it with scraps of paper with the numbers correlating to the board game I printed out on paper. 

To play, the boys first created their meteoroid out of a large piece of tinfoil.


Then I set up the table with the board game. Each colored paper represents a zone: meteoroid zone (in outer space), meteor zone (in Earth's atmosphere), and a meteorite zone (the Earth's surface). The goal was to take your meteoroid from outer space and land it on Antarctica, where it will be discovered and studied, answering questions along the way.



The boys naturally played some table "soccer" after the game.


Then we headed to the computer to read more about comets and to make our own virtual comets. The boys really enjoyed this and it was a nice way for the kids (and me!) to understand the parts of a comet and what they consist of. Plus, anything on the computer is just plain cool to do with my kids. The site link is here, but for the actual game, click on the title "comets."

After, we took our previous tinfoil meteoroids and used them in an art activity. At first, I was going to do the Life Cycle of a Space Rock, but after the comet fun, we turned ours into comets. We added ice (cotton balls) to our rock nuclei, and then added a coma and tails (gas/ion and dust tails). I love how each had such individual projects. All we used was a large sheet of black construction paper, tinfoil, cotton balls, glue, glitter, and colored sugar leftover from cookie making a long while ago.

Miss Bear's - I put down the glue and she added the glitter and sugar.

Critter's - he wanted lots of tails to his comet. He named it after himself and gave it an orbit of 50 years.

Skipper's - he gave his three tails, named it after himself and gave it an orbit of just one year.

I did my own to give them an idea of what to do.
 
The final activity we have to wait for, and that is watching the Perseid meteor showers in August. We are already planning a campout at Grandma and Grandpa's (to avoid our city lights here). It should be a blast and I sure pray for a clear night!!!

Other ideas I found that we did not do but looked interesting:
  • Have a group of Earth rocks mixed in with a meteorite or two (you can purchase some here). Let the kids explore the rocks to determine which are the meteorites.
  • Build your own comet using dry ice and a few other common ingredients. I have not used dry ice before and am a little nervous, but I will most definitely be using it to wrap up astronomy to make some alien bubbles.
Happy star gazing! Next up... (after awhile anyway)... is Jupiter, the gas giant!

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