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Space Math is a NASA website containing space-themed math lessons for students in elementary school through high school. You can search for lessons according to grade level or mathematics topic. The bulk of the materials seem to be PDFs of directions for carrying out the lesson plans. The exception to that pattern being the middle school (grades 6-8) resources which include the use of some of NASA eClips videos.

Three Ways Students Can Explore Space From Their Desktops

Someone recently emailed me after reading this post about Google Sky for Android to ask if there were similar tools available for use on laptops. The answer is yes. Here are three tools that students can use to explore space from their desktops.

The Microsoft WorldWide Telescope makes very detailed, high resolution images (scientific quality) from space available to anyone with access to a computer and an internet connection. The goal of the WorldWide Telescope is to enable users to use their computers as virtual telescopes. The WorldWide Telescope can be downloaded and run on Windows-based computers. Mac users will have to use the web client to access the WorldWide Telescope. The educators page on the WorldWide Telescope site has lesson resources and ideas for middle school and high school use.

Celestia is a free space exploration simulation program. Celestia is a free download that works on Mac, PC, and Linux systems. The advantage of Celestia over other satellite imagery programs is that in addition to seeing the Earth's surface, students can zoom in on moons, stars, and planets. The user controls what they see. Operating the program is easy enough to be used by students as young as six or seven. The user guides for Celestia are very thorough and available in four languages. There is a companion website to Celestia called the Celestia Motherlode that features add-ons to Celestia and educational activities that teachers can use in their classrooms.

Google Sky allows you view images of space in your web browser. Google Sky offers great images of outer space captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Sloan Digital Sky SurveyGoogle Sky has images that have captured x-ray and infrared wavelengths. The Google Sky web browser also has some more basic images in a collection referred to as "backyard astronomy." 

50 Years of Solar System Exploration & 10 Good Resources for Learning About Space

National Geographic and Bill Nye the Science Guy hosted a panel discussion with NASA scientists. The panel discussed the history of major developments over the last fifty years of space exploration. The half hour discussion was recorded and is available to watch online. Watching the video, embedded below, prompted me to review some of the many resources for learning about space exploration that I've discovered over the years. Here are ten of my favorites.

Station Spacewalk Game is designed for middle school students to learn about the purposes and functions of the International Space Station. In the game students go on Extravehicular Activities modeled after real EVAs performed by astronauts. Station Spacewalk can be played online or downloaded for free as a Windows game or as a Mac game.

NASA's Lunar Electric Rover Simulator is a free iOS app that lets you explore the moon. The app is really a game in which players perform tasks to support the activities of a lunar outpost. Players transport items from place to place and along the way encounter lunar challenges to overcome. The app also includes an interactive gallery of images. You can download the app for free from iTunes.

NASA 360 is a series of videos about NASA's work. The episodes examine NASA's technological and scientific work. The episodes discuss how NASA's work is used not only in space exploration but also in elements of our modern everyday lives. The episodes can be downloaded from the NASA 360 page or viewed on Hulu.

In the 25 minute video below former commander of the International Space Station, Sunita Williams takes viewers on an in-depth tour of the International Space Station. In the video you'll get the answers to almost everything you may have wondered about regarding living in space for weeks or months at a time. Williams shows us the laboratories, the space suits for space walks, the kitchen, and the sleeping quarters. Williams even shows us the space station's "outhouse" and goes so far as to explain the different types of toilet paper on the space station.

We Choose the Moon is a project put together by the John F. Kennedy Presidential LibraryWe Choose the Moon has eleven stages that viewers can follow as the mission progresses. If you visit We Choose the Moon you can explore image and video galleries capturing the sights and sounds of the lead-up to the launch. Included in these galleries are videos of President Kennedy talking about the goal of putting a man on the moon.

Planet In Action is a fun website that features games based on Google Earth. In  the Moon Lander game you take control of the Apollo 11 moon lander and guide the Eagle to touch-down.  

NASA has an excellent interactive timeline tracing the history of astronomy and space exploration from the Greek philosophers through today. Planet Quest is actually three timelines combined into one. The three timelines cover technology, discovery, and culture as it relates to astronomy and space exploration. Each element on the timeline is narrated. Users can select individual elements on the timeline or choose autoplay to hear the narration of each item in sequence.

The Scale of the Universe 2 features a huge selection of objects in the universe that are arranged according to size and scale. You can zoom-in on the image to objects as small as neutrinos and quarks or as large as planets, constellations, and galaxies. When you click on an object in The Scale of the Universe 2 a small window of information about that object pops up.

Spacecraft 3D is a free iPad app produced by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Spacecraft 3D uses augmented reality technology to bring NASA spacecraft to life on your iPad. To get started using the app you first need to print out the spacecraft target codes. Then your students can scan those target codes with their iPads. The spacecraft then becomes a 3D model that your students can explore.

NASA Space Place is a sizable collection of fun projects, games, animations, and lessons about Earth, space, and technology. Before playing the games or attempting one of the projects, students should explore the animations and facts sections to gain some background information. The projects section of NASA Space Place provides teachers, parents, and students with directions for hands-on projects like building a balloon-powered rover, building relief maps, and building a moon habitat. The games section offers thirty games covering all of the subjects in the animations and facts sections.

Connect and Collaborate With NASA

It's not a secret that I enjoy many of the educational resources that NASA offers to teachers and students. I enjoy visiting the NASA website because it seems like every time I visit it there is a new resource to investigate. This afternoon I discovered Connect and Collaborate With NASAConnect and Collaborate With NASA is a page linking to all of NASA's iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile apps. The page includes apps that I've previously tried Spacecraft 3D (my review) and Sector 33 (my review) as well as some new-to-me apps like Comet Quest (free iOS app) and Be A Martian(Android). 

NASA Kids' Club - Games and More for K-4

NASA Kids' Club is a new offering from NASA that features games, interactive activities, and images for students to explore, play, and learn from. At the center of the NASA Kids' Club is a set of games and interactive activities arranged on five skill levels. The activities range from simple things like guessing numbers in "Airplane High Low" to more difficult tasks like identifying planets based on some clues provided in prompts in "Go to the Head of the Solar System."

An Interactive History of NASA Space Suits

This afternoon I stumbled upon a neat NASA resource that elementary school and middle school students might like. This interactive display gives students the opportunity to learn about six generations of the NASA space suits. Clicking on one of the space suits gives students a short history of why that suit was developed, its unique parts, and how it functions. The introductory animation to the display explains to students why astronauts need to wear space suits and what would happen if they didn't wear a space suit.

Eight Good Resources for Space Science Lessons

Last week one of my colleagues asked if I knew of "any good websites" for space science lessons. I said of course I did and gave the suggestion to turn on the moon view in Google Earth. This post was prompted by that 90 second conversation. Here are eight (for the eight planets) good resources for space science lessons.

Celestia is a free space exploration simulation program. Celestia is a free download that works on Mac, PC, and Linux systems. The advantage ofCelestia over other satellite imagery programs is that in addition to seeing the Earth's surface, students can zoom in on moons, stars, and planets. The user controls what they see. Operating the program is easy enough to be used by students as young as six or seven. The user guides for Celestia are very thorough and available in four languages. There is a companion website to Celestia called the Celestia Motherlode that features add-ons to Celestia and educational activities that teachers can use in their classrooms.

The Sloan Digital Sky Surveybetter known as the SkyServer is a rich website full of images from throughout the galaxy and beyond. The SkyServer aims to, in their words, "build the largest map in the history of the world." The project is supported by NASA, the US Department of Energy, and National Science Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The galleries of famous places is one of the world's most extensive public galleries of space imagery. To date over 50 million images have been captured.

Google Sky allows you view images of space in your web browser. Google Sky offers great images of outer space captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Sloan Digital Sky SurveyGoogle Sky has images that have captured x-ray and infrared wavelengths. The Google Sky web browser also has some more basic images in a collection referred to as "backyard astronomy." Watch the video below for a quick overview of Google Sky.


To view the moon imagery and to view tours of the moon in Google Earthsimply select "moon" from the planet menu in the Google Earth toolbar.






Some of the coolest features of Google Earth moon are the layers based on different Apollo missions as well as the embedded video footage recorded at the moon. Watch the video below to learn more about "moon view" in Google Earth.

You can also view Mars in Google Earth by turning on the Mars view. See the screen capture above to see where to locate Mars view in Google Earth. Watch the video below to learn more about "Mars view" in Google Earth.


NASA has an excellent interactive timeline tracing the history of astronomy and space exploration from the Greek philosophers through today.Planet Quest is actually three timelines combined into one. The three timelines cover technology, discovery, and culture as it relates to astronomy and space exploration. Each element on the timeline is narrated. Users can select individual elements on the timeline or choose autoplay to hear the narration of each item in sequence.

Gunn Interactive has a fantastic interactive visualization of the planets in orbit. The visualization was created by Gunn Interactive. Using this interactive visualization tool students can see the different rates of orbit for all of the planets. Students can zoom in and zoom out to see more or less of the planets. Students can also adjust the speed of the orbits.


Amazing Space is a great website for teachers and students of astronomy. Amazing Space has a great collection of virtual tours and online simulations. Each simulation contains valuable lessons about an astronomy topic. The educator resource page on Amazing Space is full of great ideas and lesson plans for teaching astronomy to students in elementary school, middle school, and high school classrooms.


The WorldWide Telescope makes very detailed, high resolution images (scientific quality) from space available to anyone with access to a computer and an internet connection. The goal of theWorldWide Telescope is to enable users to use their computers as virtual telescopes. The WorldWide Telescope can be downloaded and run on Windows-based computers. Mac users will have to use the web client to access the WorldWide Telescope. The educators page on the WorldWide Telescope sitehas lesson resources and ideas for middle school and high school use.


Bonus Resource or Pluto:

8 Wonders of the Solar System is a Scientific American interactive feature about the solar system. In 8 Wonders of the Solar System viewers explore the sites that future "space tourists" will want to view. The sites are depicted through the artist Ron Miller's drawings. The tour includes audio and video commentary about the featured sites. One of my favorite stops on the tour is the Peaks of Eternal Light on the Moon. The Peaks of Eternal Light are one of the few places in the solar system on which the sun never sets.

A Guided Tour Inside the International Space Station

In the 25 minute video below former commander of the International Space Station, Sunita Williams takes viewers on an in-depth tour of the International Space Station. In the video you'll get the answers to almost everything you may have wondered about regarding living in space for weeks or months at a time. Williams shows us the laboratories, the space suits for space walks, the kitchen, and the sleeping quarters. Williams even shows us the space station's "outhouse" and goes so far as to explain the different types of toilet paper on the space station. 


Rocker Simulator


Rocket Simulator allows you to launch a rocket into space and view various objects currently in Earth orbit. Currently you have the option of launching 4 rocket models and visit 6 objects in space, such as the Hubble Telescope, International Space Station and Kepler.





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