This summer marks 50 years since the historic Apollo 11 mission, when humans first walked on the surface of the Moon and the launch of the Sophie Allport Space collection. As part of our celebrations here at the National Space Centre, we have come up with five space-themed activities for you to do with the kids this summer.
Star in a jar
When we look up into the Night Sky one of the first things that you see are the stars. This simple craft allows you to create your own glowing night sky in a jar.
You will need:
- Clean jar
- Aluminium foil
- Small LED light
- Glue stick
- Measure the tin foil so that it will cover all of the jar other than the hole at the top
- Stick the foil to the jar
- Using the pin make small holes into the foil
- Place the LED lights inside the jar and turn off the main lights
- The stars should be projected around you, so sit back and make up your own constellations!
- Alternatively, you can paint stars and galaxies onto the outside of the jar using glow in the dark paint, “charge up” the paint under the light and when you turn off the lights you will be left with your own floating galaxy.
Rocky planets and moons often have lots of craters on their surface. These are caused by meteorites hitting the surface.
But meteorites are much more fun when they are edible! This recipe will help you make an edible chondrite meteorite.
This recipe makes about 12 meteorites
You will need:
- 250g chocolate broken up into small pieces
- 125g digestive biscuits
- 50-100g Mini marshmallows
- Metallic cake decorating nuggets/balls to taste
- 125g unsalted butter
- 2 heatproof bowls
- Saucepan/large bowl
- Baking paper
- Baking tray
- Sealable bag
- Rolling pin (optional)
- Line the baking tray
- Put the biscuits into the bag and smash up into crumbs using the rolling pin or your fist.
- Place the butter and half of the chocolate into the heatproof bowl. Fill the saucepan or larger bowl with water and put the heatproof bowl inside the water. Stir the butter and chocolate, allowing it to melt.
- Once melted, remove the bowl from the water and add the biscuits and mix well. This chocolatey biscuit mixture represents the stony part of the meteorite.
- Add the marshmallows and metallic cake decorations and mix. The marshmallows represent the chondrules which are small mineral blobs that are billions of years old. The metallic cake decorations represent the small amount of iron found in meteorites.
- Spoon the mixture into little heaps on the baking tray
- Leave to cool in the fridge for a few hours
- Take handfuls of the biscuit mixture and roll them into balls
- Melt the other half of the chocolate as before
- Cover the top of the meteorites in chocolate to represent the crust of the meteorite
- Leave to cool again
- To serve cut the meteorites in half to identify the chondrites.
Craters and moon footprints
Image credit NASA
This activity shows you how craters are formed on rocky bodies in space
You will need:
- Large tray
- Cocoa powder (optional)
- Balls or marbles of various sizes
- Sieve the flour into the tray, ensuring that the bottom is filled.
- If using the cocoa powder sprinkle about 3 tablespoons onto the top of the floured surface.
- Drop the different balls from the same height. Different sized balls will form different sized craters. As they are being dropped from the same height the only thing affecting the size of the crater caused will be the mass of the ball.
- Once you have experimented with all the balls from one height you can experiment with dropping the balls from different heights.
- If you are using the cocoa powder, not only will you be able to see the way that craters are formed, you will also be able to see how an impact can cause different layers of the surface to be brought up. You will also be able to see how bits of flour and the cocoa powder fly off the surface. When this happens on rocky bodies these bits of rock that fly off will themselves become meteoroids, which may eventually become meteorites.
- If you wanted to use your edible meteorites to make the craters, substitute the flour for icing sugar!
- To take this experiment further you can compare your footprints in the sand to your footprints in the flour. See which footprint lasts longer after bashing the sides of the trays. The shape of the flour is similar to the shape of the dust on the surface of the Moon called regolith. Flour and regolith are much more angular than sand because the sand has been weathered. The footprints that were left on the surface of the Moon will be there for thousands of years.
This rocket is simple to make and although it might not take you into space it still looks good.
You will need:
- Rocket template - DOWNLOAD HERE
- Colouring pens/pencils
- Strips of red or orange tissue paper
- Print out the Rocket template
- Colour it in
- Cut it out along the solid line.
- Stick the tissue paper along the bottom
- Fold around into a cone shape and tape the marked side to the opposite side of the rocket
- Blow through the top of your rocket to see the flames come out
We live in a galaxy called the Milky Way, but there are 200 billion other galaxies that we know of. Our galaxy is something called a barred spiral galaxy. There are lots of other spiral galaxies. This simple craft allows you to make your own.
You will need:
- Drinking straw/pencil
- Square of paper, with the lines copied from the template - DOWNLOAD HERE
- Split pin or drawing pin
- Cut along the black lines on the square of paper
- Decorate both sides of the paper, with lots of colours and stars
- Fold each corner of the paper into the centre so that all the dots line up and stick in place using tape
- Put the drawing pin through the dots
- If using the drinking straw put the split through the pinhole and attach to the straw. If using the pencil or a stick, push the drawing pin into the top of the pencil or stick
- Spin the galaxy by blowing on it