Mini Space Camp Course Outline

De Anza College Extended Year Summer Program 2013


Course: Space Science Mini-Camp Instructors: Mike Askins (8:15AM - 10:10AM) Terry Tanner (10:35AM - 12:30PM)
Grades: 4th and 5th School: Collins School


In this class we'll stimulate and extend student's interest and knowledge in astronomy and space science using "hands on" activities, carefully selected visuals, discussions, and tools like telescopes and a sky simulator. Students will explore basic concepts, study close-by objects like the Earth, Moon and Sun, and very distant objects such as stars and galaxies. We'll learn what people have discovered about objects in space, as well perform some of the techniques used to discover that information. The last week of class is devoted to activities surrounding the design of space vehicles capable of taking astronauts to the planet Mars!

Introduction and the Sun and Moon - Week One

We begin by examining the Sun and Moon, their character and motions. Students will learn to use the Sunspotter telescopes to directly view the surface of the Sun (weather permitting) and to map the size and positions of sunspots. We'll use small Earth models and the sky simulator to explore some reasons for the seasons". We'll study the night to night changes in the appearance of the Moon, why the Moon has a "hidden side", and observe Moon features learning about the forces that created them. We'll also view some eclipses of the Sun and Moon with the sky simulator.

Planets and the Solar System - Week Two (no class Thurs July 4)

What makes each of the parts of our universe special? How are they different than the planet we live on? We will study the terrain on Venus using shoe boxes. We will make a Comet in the classroom. The students will create a solar system to a scale with the real one. We will use a scale of 1 inch = 1,000,000 miles to show the distances between the planets. The students will learn a dance that will explain the best times to send a rocket to Mars. We will learn about each planet in detail.

Stars and Astronomer's Tools - Week Three

What ARE stars, and why do they shine? We'll meet lots of stars and discuss the differences between them. Students will identify constellations in the sky simulator using a take home star wheel and make and use a star clock. We'll discover and "listen to" some strange stars called pulsars. Students will experiment with lenses and build our own "spyglass telescope", and experiment with a (take home) grating "spectroscope" to learn how astronomers determine what space objects are made of.

Space Travel to Mars - Week Four

This last week will be spent with the students learning what is needed for a successful trip to Mars and return to Earth. We will discover what is true and what is not true about what they know about space flight. We will learn about the dangers of this flight. The students will experiment with ways to make create oxygen and water on Mars. In groups they will use what they have learned to design (on paper) their own spacecraft using what they have learned. The last day of the class a NASA scientist will come to the class and look at the designs and give suggestions to each of the groups on their designs. He will also spend time explaining what his role has been with the Space Shuttle.