Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkit extensions


The following are resources you can use to extend the visitor experience if you want to go into more depth or expand the length of your program.  

2018 Toolkit Extensions

  • Impact Craters [Craters] Provides a more in-depth experience to our own impact crater activity. Would be a great addition to a middle school or higher summer camp. (Note: The link to the resource is down, but can be accessed via the “archived resource” link below the resource link.) AAAS Benchmarks: 10A/M212D/M14E/H9

  • Where Do They Come From? Crater Hunters [Craters] Another activity to extend our crater activity. Students use coordinates (latitude and longitude) to locate craters on a map of the Earth. Would be good for a camp activity for grades 5 and up. AAAS Benchmarks: 4C/M2a4C/M2b4A/M4

  • Ice Zones: Where We Look for Ice [Craters] “Ice Zones” would be a good follow up activity to our craters activity. Learners use models of the sun and planets to find craters that could block sunlight. In these dark zones, water ice could exist and that’s important information for future explorers. AAAS Benchmarks: 4A/M34B/M2cd4B/M124B/H3

  • Where are the Distant Worlds? Star Maps [Exoplanet Transits] A good extension to our Exoplanets activity: using star maps, visitors can find stars in the night sky that have confirmed planets. Although you’ll only be able to see the star, it’s a good exercise in using star maps. AAAS Benchmarks: 4A/E14A/M2abc4A/H1a

  • Optics For Kids - The Optical Society: Exploring the Science of Light [Filtered Light] The Optical Society presents Exploring the Science of Light. This is a different take on our activity, but using gumballs, a shoe box, and colored cellophane.

  • The Three Little Pigments: Color & Light Science Activity | Exploratorium Teacher Institute Project [Filtered Light] Investigate how light and color interact by aligning cyan, magenta, yellow, and black transparencies. This is an Exploratorium Science Snack that may be used to visualize how an image looks different when only one wavelength is used.

  • Barycentric balls - orbits and the centre of mass | ESA [Objects in Motion] Although this activity says it for ages 14-18, the demonstration in the activity, developed by the European Space Agency, can be appreciated by all ages. Take four tennis balls and tether them together. In one ball, you also add more mass to it by filling it with metal pellets. You then toss the balls in the air you you can see the difference in motion between the two tennis ball pairs. You could also create different pairs, too, where there’s gradations of mass difference. Or if ambitious, gradations in density by including larger yet lighter balls to tether.

  • Think Scientifically: Adventures in the Attic [Objects in Motion] A picture story book about how two siblings created a model of the Earth, Sun, and Moon. Would be good for a grade school story time at a summer camp and a companion to our Objects in Motion activity for young learners. AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/H311B/E4

  • Grown-up Moon: What do You See in Today's Moon? [Hide and Seek Moon] Great for young audiences as an additional activity after or before doing Hide and Seek Moon. This activity uses cultural origin stories about features of the moon. Afterwards, students will draw a character or object inspired by the Moon’s face and take that drawing home with them. AAAS Benchmarks: 4A/M312D/P2

  • Blind Mice go to Pluto [Pack a Space Telescope and Hide and Seek Moon] Continuing the introduction of tools to see distant objects for young learners, “Blind Mice go to Pluto” incorporates story time with hands on activities that let’s kids “observe” distant planets with a ground-based telescope, space telescope, and fly-by probe.  AAAS Benchmarks: 3A/M21A/M2

  • Neato-Magneto Planets [Magnetic Fields] This activity pairs well with our own magnetic field activity and makes it topical if you want to include a discussion about the Juno probe. It uses similar objects to our own activity and augments it in several ways. If you wanted to create more activity stations for visitors to explore Neato-Magneto would be a good start. Or if you wanted to create an extended camp/classroom activity for magnetic fields, this would be a good activity to include.

  • Magnetic Poles and Pulsars [Magnetic Fields] This activity reinforces our own magnetic field activity and expands the activity to the astrophysical objects called pulsars. If there are other astrophysics-based activities happening in your institution, this could be a good activity to add. This activity is associated with many activities found in the Supernovae Educator’s Activity Guide. It is also related to the NASA satellite mission, Fermi: https://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ AAAS Benchmarks: 4G/H7

  • Introduction to Magnetic Fields [Magnetic Fields and Pack a Space Telescope] The iMAGiNETICspace: Where Imagination, Magnetism, and Space Collide series is a fantastic comprehensive resource for magnetic fields and satellites. Not only is it a comprehensive introduction to magnetic fields, but it contains great hands on activities like building a “Soda Bottle Magnetometer.” You can use this as an extension to our “Pack a Telescope” activity if you want to have students “Pack a Satellite” for studying magnetic fields. AAAS Benchmarks: 4G/E211B/M412D/M6

  • Bottle Blast Off: Physics & Engineering Science Activity | Exploratorium Teacher Institute Project [Stomp Rockets] Experiment with rocket designs and a PVC launcher to discover how high—and how far—you can make your rockets go. This is another variation of stomp rockets using PVC and a 2-little soda bottle. It’s more of a DIY project as you could have students assemble the launch system as well as the actual rocket.

  • Achieving Orbit [Stomp Rockets] After doing Stomp Rockets, this activity would be a good follow up. Since it takes rockets multiple stages to achieve orbit, this activity uses balloons as stages to achieve a certain velocity and distance. It’s a fun design and engineering challenge that’s different, but related to our Stomp Rocket activity. AAAS Benchmarks: 11B/M6

  • Phoenix Mars Mission - Just for Kids - MarsBots [Mars Rovers] A comprehensive set of 17 activities centered around the exploration of Mars via robots and orbiting satellites. For example, you can have kids design their own Mars lander using edibles like candy. This series of activities can be picked about for individual table top demos or be used as the basis for day or two in a space/Mars summer camp.

  • Think Scientifically: The Sun and The Water Cycle [Paper Mountains] If you're doing Paper Mountains with a particularly young audience, this printable illustrated storybook would complement this activity very well. You could start or finish the experience with story time! AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/E34B/M7

  • Runaway Runoff: How Does the Ground Affect Where Pollution Goes? [Paper Mountains] A part of the DIY Lake Science App produced by the Lawrence Hall of Science, this activity is a hands on activity about erosion and runoff with an environmental impact twist. Great for a camp or extended outdoor activity.

  • Rose Colored Glasses [Filtered Light] eClips are downloadable guides for educators for viewing and discussing NASA produced media. Rose Colored Glasses describes a similar activity to our Filtered Light activity, but it also points an educator to some great video clips about filtering light and the Hubble Space Telescope. Other e-clips can be found at: https://nasaeclips.arc.nasa.gov/teachertoolbox/guidelites

  • Exploring Craters eClips [Craters] eClips are downloadable guides for educators for viewing and discussing NASA produced media. This e-Clips pdf could help a museum educator with extending the craters activity using Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter videos and other crater-centric videos. Other e-clips can be found at: https://nasaeclips.arc.nasa.gov/teachertoolbox/guidelites

2017 Toolkit Extensions

  • Solar System Showcase • Beyond the Chalkboard [Pocket Solar System] A nice extension to the Pocket Solar System activity. Together visitors build a full body version the solar system. Note: It requires a 40 foot space but can be scaled up to a 100 yards!

  • Solar System in My Neighborhood [Pocket Solar System] A bigger version of the toolkit's Pocket Solar System make and take activity. It addresses the scale and distances of our solar system. Note: You'll need about 190 feet to do this activity and a pumpkin (or pumpkin sized melon). AAAS Benchmarks: 4A/M311B/E412B/M5

  • How Big, How Far, How Hot, How Old? [Pocket Solar System] A good extension to Pocket Solar System toolkit activity. Has an interesting premise about getting people to think about their mental models of scale and distance. Tip: Could be jazzed up as a game show instead of a survey. AAAS Benchmarks: 11D/P111D/M3

  • Slingshot to the Outer Planets [Orbiting Objects] This activity pairs well with the toolkit's Orbiting Objects activity and can explain how we get probes out to outer planets and their icy moons. Visitors learn about the gravity assist or "slingshot" maneuver often used by engineers to send spacecraft to the outer planets. Using magnets and ball bearings to simulate a planetary flyby, students investigate what factors influence the deflection angle of a gravity assist maneuver.

  • The Pull of the Planets [Orbiting Objects] A variation on our gravity well activity that uses different materials and focuses more on a planet's gravity than a star's gravity. AAAS Benchmarks: 4G/M112A/E112D/M8

  • Which Planet Shall We Visit? [Pocket Solar System and Imaging Life] A creative supplement to the Pocket Solar System or Imaging Life toolkit activities. Visitors create a comic strip about a planet they would like to visit, why they'd go, and how they would get there. AAAS Benchmarks: 12D/P312D/E212D/E7

  • Searching for Life [Imagining Life] A longer and more complex version of the Imagining Life activity included in the toolkit, this version challenges visitors to think about what is life and what isn't. AAAS Benchmarks: 5C/P2

  • Astrobiology: Science Learning Activities for Afterschool [Imagining Life] This is a comprehensive afterschool (or camp) framework that build off of content covered in the toolkit's Imagining Life activity. Includes a range of activities about how to define life and where it could be found in our solar system or other planetary systems.

  • Icebreaker Activity: Is It Alive? [Imagining Life] A full-body experience to supplement the Imagining Life activity in the toolkit. This activity uses improv to get visitors thinking about how we define what is living and what is non-living.

  • Investigating Ice Worlds [Ice Orbs] A comprehensive supplement to the toolkit's Ice Orbs activity, the Investigating Icy Worlds site has an extensive guide with many different activities about how NASA is studying icy planets. Includes a range of activity experiences, from using mime to shining light through ice, for different audiences. AAAS Benchmarks: 4A/M34F/E34F/M812A/P112D/P34A/H3

  • Make a Cloud Mobile :: NASA Space Place [Investigating Clouds] A nice extension to the toolkit cloud activity. Visitors make a hanging mobile of different cloud types.

  • Teru Teru Bozu • Beyond the Chalkboard [Investigating Clouds] Learn about Japanese culture and ways they live with and view their cloudy, rainy season. Includes a fun make and take.

  • Hot Equator, Cold Poles [Rising Sea] If you want to talk about climate change, you may want to talk about seasons and the differences between seasonal weather and climate.

  • Earth's Water [Rising Sea] Climate and Water: This activity could be used to talk to visitors about how much water is on Earth and in what forms it comes in. A good supplement to the Rising Sea activity. AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/M7

  • Making a Gas You Can See [Investigating Clouds and Rising Sea] Great for our youngest learners: a story time combined with a science experiment (baking soda and vinegar). A good supplement for our Investigating Clouds and Rising Sea activities. AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/E4

Digital toolkits 

Digital versions of toolkits are available as a free download:

About the Project


This material is based upon work supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award numbers NNX16AC67A and 80NSSC18M0061. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).