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.



Activities

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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: Create a paper rocket and launch it from a straw! Investigate how engineers design and test new rockets.

  • 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!

  • Stomp Rockets: Discover how some rockets carry science tools into space for quick, low-flying missions, then build and launch your own air rockets.

To make your own launcher for the Stomp Rockets activity, you will need one plastic liter soda bottle, a "tornado maker" or "tornado connector"  (it hooks two soda bottles together; available online), three feet of flexible tubing, and duct tape or a heat shrink sleeve to connect them. Connect one end of the tornado maker to the bottle and the other end to the tubing with the duct tape or shrink sleeve.

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. 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.  All photos from NASA unless otherwise credited.