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Hands-on Activities

Teachers, use these standards-based hands-on activities to enhance your SPOT presentation (download copies at the bottom of this page)! Your SPOT ambassador can help you lead these activities when they visit, or you can do these before the ambassador comes to prep your students, or after the ambassador leaves to reinforce what they learned.

***** Note: Hands-on activities provided by SPOT Ambassadors during your visit are only offered for groups of less than 30 students at a time. *****

Build a Molecule
- Use gumdrops and toothpicks to build your own molecule! Learn about "functional groups" to describe your molecule's properties (30 minutes) - good for any age and best with "How to Make a Planet...with Life!"

Create an Alien
- Astronomers have found hundreds of other worlds. How would another life form adapt to environments with different surfaces, temperatures, atmospheres, and gravity? This is your chance to get creative! (30 minutes) - good for any age and works best with "How to Make a Planet...with Life!"

Pocket Solar System - Fold register tape to map out the relative distances between the orbits of the planets! This is a fun, easy, and quick activity. (20-30 minutes) - good for any age and any presentation
  • NGSS MS-ESS1 Earth’s Place in the Universe, Science and Engineering Practices: Developing and Using Models. Use paper folding to predict and construct a scale model for orbital radius of planets in the solar system. Discuss pros and cons of the model.
  • Disciplinary Core Ideas: ESS1.B Earth and the Solar System. Determine how the planets and the asteroid belt are distributed throughout the solar system.
  • Crosscutting Concepts: Scale, Proportion, and Quantity. Discuss proportion and scale between model and reality for the relative distance of solar system objects.
  • CCSS Mathematics 6.RP.A.1 Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ration relationship between two quantities. Use ratio language to answer questions such as: If the paper is divided into 16ths and folded in half one more time, what fraction will each segment represent?    
Sizing Up the Moon - How big is the moon in comparison to Earth? How far away? Use playdoh to make your best guess, then find out the true scale! (30 minutes) - good for any age and any presentation
  • ETS1A: Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem. Use playdoh to predict and construct a scale model for the relative size of the Earth and Moon.
  • Crosscutting Concepts: Scale, Proportion, and Quantity. Discuss the difference in proportion and scale between a mass-based model and a size-based model.
  • CCSS Mathematics 7.RP.A.2 Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities. Predict and determine the relative distance between the Earth and Moon, using the same scale as their sizes. 
GBT Design Challenge - The Green Bank Telescope is the largest steerable structure on land. How do engineers balance cost, materials, and weight to make such a strong and durable telescope? Practice building your own tall structure that can hold weight with spaghetti, gum drops, and marshmallows! (60-90 minutes) - good for middle school and older, and the Invisible Universe presentation
  • NGSS MS-PS1 Matter and its Interactions Crosscutting Concepts: Structure and Function. Experiment with structural materials (ex: spaghetti, gumdrops, marshmallows, toothpicks) and shapes (ex: triangles, squares)
  • Crosscutting Concept: Scale, Proportion, and Quantity. Discuss how the challenges faced in designing a structure might scale to other materials and larger structures.
  • NGSS MS-PS2 Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions Crosscutting Concepts: Structure and Function. Design and test structures that will remain stable and support weight (i.e. as sand is added to the top of the structure).
  • Science and Engineering Practices: Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions. Compare and contrast the effectiveness of other groups’ designs; offer explanations for why the GBT designs functioned as they did.
  • NGSS MS-ETS1-1 Engineering Design Cross Cutting Concepts: Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World. Discuss the purposes of building a large structure that can hold weight. Compare to construction of the Green Bank Telescope.
  • Disciplinary Core Idea ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems. Plan construction of a structure with material, height, strength, time, and cost constraints. 
Programming a Robotic Arm - Learn how diligent and careful computer programmers needs to be to get a robot like Curiosity or the arm on the International Space Station to follow directions. Program your own code for a robot arm to stack cups! (30 minutes) - good for middle school and older, and for Space Station and Mars presentations

Electromagnetic War- A new take on the old card game war! Learn about the different types of light. Longest wavelength wins! (15-30 minutes) - good for any age and the Invisible Universe and Space Telescopes presentation

***** Want to enhance your SPOT visit with pre- or post-visit activities? Check out these enrichment resources for each feature presentation *****


International Space Station enrichment activities

Space Telescopes: Exploring Other Worlds enrichment activities


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Science Public Outreach Team West Virginia,
Sep 4, 2015, 8:43 AM
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Science Public Outreach Team West Virginia,
Sep 4, 2015, 8:42 AM
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Science Public Outreach Team West Virginia,
Sep 17, 2014, 12:20 PM
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Science Public Outreach Team West Virginia,
Jan 14, 2014, 6:52 AM
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Science Public Outreach Team West Virginia,
Jan 14, 2014, 6:50 AM
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Science Public Outreach Team West Virginia,
Sep 17, 2014, 12:20 PM
Ċ
Science Public Outreach Team West Virginia,
Sep 17, 2014, 12:19 PM
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