Exploration Activities

Explore the universe with these hands-on activities!

The Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars.
The Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars.

Scientists use a variety of tools to learn more about far-away places. Discover how they design and use telescopes, rockets, and rovers to take pictures, search for exoplanets, and look for signs of life.


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  • Pack A Space Telescope: Discover how engineers design space telescopes to fold inside rockets, and design and launch your own model telescope. Watch a how-to video here!

  • Filtered Light: Learn how scientists use colored filters to study the universe, and see images in a new light.

  • Straw Rockets:  Investigate how engineers design and test new rockets by creating a paper rocket and launching it from a straw.
  • Design A Rover: Design and build a model rover to study the Solar System.

  • Objects in Motion: Use orbiting clay balls to make simple models of interacting objects in space.
  • Exoplanets Transit: Scientists can find exoplanets by looking for their shadow passing in front of the star they orbit. See what you can learn about a hidden object by studying its shadow!

  • Searching For Life: Conduct a simple experiment looking for signs of life in three different “soil” samples.

  • Imagining Life: Learn about living things that have evolved to live in harsh environments on Earth, and imagine what life could look like on alien worlds!

Drawing of the James Webb Space Telescope in space.Artist's rendition of the James Webb Space Telescope.


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This project was funded under NASA cooperative agreement NNX16AL65A and cooperative agreement number NNH15ZDA004C. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and  do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.