Explore the science of space through rocketry: Part 2

Explore the science of space through rocketry; this is the second article in a series of three for helping youth explore the science of space.

The science of space provides many opportunities for children to wonder and ask questions. They ask about the stars that they see, the planets that they cannot see and the many discoveries surrounding space exploration. Through this three part space exploration series, resources and activities will be provided that will help your child develop their own discovery of space.

Michigan State University Extension says to allow your child’s questioning to be the source of exploration. Identify what their question is and guide them in a scientific inquiry process to find the answer. Helping them develop this process of problem solving is a life-long skill that will assist them in any future career.

Lead your child in an exploration of space via an investigation of the solar system. Begin with asking them what they know about the solar system. List these answers to be referred to throughout their study of space. Help them create a scale model of our solar system using Astronomy 2 of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Science toolkit, ‘How Big and How Far?’

Once they have created the model; see what questions they come up with. Some questions may include what are planets made of? How far away from the Earth is each planet? What is a light year? Guide them into the process of how they can find these answers and explore more about space.

Use the scale model of the solar system to guide them in an investigation of acceleration. NASA Paper Rockets activity on page 43 will allow them to create a rocket out of paper. They can then use a straw to propel their rocket from planet Earth to other planets. They can see if they can redesign their rocket to reach a planet that is even further away from Earth. Questions should include having them reflect on what worked in their redesign and what did not. Have them share their results with another child to see what ideas they can collectively come up with for future rocket designs.

Michigan’s 4-H Youth Development Science and Technology website offers more aerospace organizations and resource curriculum. Check these out for more ‘hands on’ activities to help your child explore the science of space!

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