Space Day Lesson Helpers
Enjoy a wild ride through the Milky Way and beyond! Launch your journey with Scholastic News Online's introduction to Space Day, a worldwide celebration of space exploration. Then, click on some of our other articles to get the latest space news; check out fascinating solar-system facts; explore the possibility of life in outer space (human and otherwise!); and more. Use the activity ideas below to keep your space unit in orbit as long as you'd like!
Neighbors in Space (pdf): The planets scientists know the most about are those right here in our own solar system. Help students get a handle on our neighbors in space by reading this fact-filled graph together. For each of the nine planets in our solar system, it tells the distance from the sun, diameter, number of moons, number of rings, and composition. When students have completed the graph activity, turn their attention to the mnemonic device at the bottom of the page. Have fun creating your own memory devices to remember the order of the planets! [Answers: 1. Uranus; 2. 4/9; 3. Saturn, by about 42,250 miles; 4. rock; 5. 60; 6. Answers will vary: Pluto is smaller than Neptune, has fewer moons, has no rings, and is made up of different materials.]
Planetary Puzzle (pdf): Make this crossword puzzle a part of your Space Day activities. Clues highlight important information from this Special Online Issue, and all answers can be found within the News Zone stories and Grolier content. [Answers: ACROSS: 2. water; 3. Space; 5. Tito; 7. gravity; 8. orbit; 10. Earth; 11. Jupiter; 12. NASA. DOWN: 1. black hole; 4. extraterrestrial; 6. Mars; 7. galaxy; 9. Challenger.]
Aliens on Film: In the 1930s and '40s, Flash Gordon battled aliens that looked like humans in metallic armor. In the films of the 1950s, aliens came to Earth for a variety of purposes—from protesting nuclear testing (The Day the Earth Stood Still) to brainwashing residents of a small town (Invaders from Mars). Since then, Hollywood's fascination with extraterrestrials has only increased. Have students select a recent TV program or movie that featured creatures from another planet. Invite them to sketch an alien from the film or show, then answer these questions:
- What does the extraterrestrial look like? In what ways does it resemble humans? In what ways is it different from us?
- What planet is the alien supposed to be from?
- What is the creature's attitude toward humans?
- In the movie or show, how do humans react to the alien?
- If you were making a movie about extraterrestrials, how would you represent them? How would they look, act, talk, etc.?
Make 3-D Martian Maps: If humans ever set up an ecosystem in space, Mars is the most-likely locale. In this activity, have students take a closer look at the Red Planet. The surface of Mars is full of craters, mountains, volcanoes, and what appear to be dried-up canals or riverbeds. Invite students to study pictures of the Martian surface in books or at the NASA Web site for kids (www.nasa.gov). Then, have fun making a three-dimensional Martian landscape out of dough. Make one batch of dough by mixing 6 cups flour, 6 cups salt, and 3 cups water. (Multiply the recipe if necessary.) Divide students into small groups and put two or three cups of the dough in an aluminum tray for each team. Have the students use rocks, toothpicks, or other tools to create a relief map of Mars. Let the maps dry in a warm spot for one week.