Looking for an engaging way to celebrate National Space Day? Check out this high-energy, space race game that can be played anywhere, at any time, with no materials required!
- Gather your family and friends to play a space race game throughout your home.
- Assign one person to be Mission Control. They will randomly shout out the following commands:
- “Black hole”
- Divide your home into three playing areas:
- The Space Rocket area (e.g., living room). When Mission Control shouts “Rocket!”, everyone runs to this area, jumps, and launches themselves into space like a rocket.
- The Black Hole area (e.g, kitchen). When Mission Control shouts “Black Hole!”, everyone runs to this area, forms a circle holding hands and rotates the circle clockwise.
- The UV Light area (e.g., bedroom). When Mission Control shouts “UV!”, everyone runs in place while holding their arms out to the side, making quick, wavelike motions (resembling the waves of a UV light).
- If Mission Control shouts “Gravity!,” everyone drops to the ground.
- For an extra twist, the last person to arrive at an area after each round is out of the game and must help Mission Control judge who is the last player to drop in subsequent rounds.
- Celebrate by counting down from 5 to 1, and shout “Liftoff!”
Educators: Use this activity in the classroom with these modifications
Continue to explore rocket science by investigating trajectory! Explain that trajectory refers to the flight path of a projectile or launched object such as a rocket. Changing the angle of the launch changes the trajectory, and results in a different landing location. Give each child a straw, sheet of paper, glue, scissors and markers. Have them fold the paper in half and sketch an image of a rocket or space shuttle. Cut the rocket out, creating two identical paper rockets. Insert the straw in between the two paper rocket pieces and use glue to seal the edges of the rocket so that the only opening is where the straw is located. Decorate both sides of the rocket, and then blow through the straw to launch it at a target in the room. Experiment with the angle of the straw and observe where the rocket lands! Does a greater angle create a closer or farther landing point?
What are we learning?
So much about space is still unknown and new discoveries continue to expand our understanding of the universe. Thanks to National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductee George Alcorn and his invention of the X-ray imaging spectrometer, we can analyze X-ray light patterns and detect radio signatures at a greater distance and with greater accuracy than previously possible. This has allowed us to discover new planets, map them and determine the materials that make up each planet. Recently, astronomers used radio waves to see past the stardust of the Milky Way. Until this point, the stardust had blocked our view of what lay beyond. What they saw was astounding: approximately 883 galaxies that comprise our formerly hidden intergalactic neighbors. What new discoveries might be waiting for us out there?