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Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkit extensions


The following are resources you can use to extend the visitor experience if you want to go into more depth or expand the length of your program.  

Moon Adventure Game Extensions

2020 Toolkit Extensions

  • Solar System Treks: Vesta and Ceres  [Asteroid Mining]  Virtually explore Ceres and Vesta.  You can explore the surface like google maps (you can have visitors find a good spot to locate a mining operation). If you have Google Cardboard VR and a mobile phone or any VR system, you can take a VR tour of Vesta’s and Ceres’ surfaces.
  • Exploring Meteorite Mysteries [Asteroid Mining]   A good place to start when looking for extended activities for an asteroid themed camp.  This 222 page PDF has a lot of activities for identifying asteroids and exploring how they form.
  • Solar System Explorations [Asteroid Mining]  Many, many digital resources about asteroids and missions to asteroids. You can download a lot of 3d models, videos, and posters about asteroids that’ll enhance and extend our Asteroid Mining activity.
  • Active Accretion [Asteroid Mining and Star Formation] If you’re looking for a full body activity, this activity puts kids in a circle and as they rotate, they “tag” each other and eventually, they form bigger and bigger bodies:  it’s a great way to explore how asteroids formed in our early solar system.
  • NASA’S BEST Activities:  Beginning Engineering Science and Technology [Design, Build, Test and Mission to Space] If you want to add different challenges to this activity, this is a treasure trove of activities about designing for space with targeted guides for grade ranges.  Activities include designing a lunar satellite, lander, rover, and how to prepare for a mission. There’s a “launch a satellite” challenge using balloon rockets, too.  Great resource for extending “on the floor” activities and for creating content for a summer camp.
  • Egg Drop Lander [Design, Build, Test]    A classic design, test, and build challenge:  the egg drop. This activity is part of a larger engineering pdf about building rockets and you may find other activities that go well with our Design, Build, Test activity!
  • NASA’s Space Place: Build Your Own Spacecraft! [Design, Build, Test]  If you want to use building material that allows for more creativity, this activity uses common household items to build your own spacecraft. You could even use our “test” tools on these.  If you can’t find these household items, they provide an edible solution, basically food ingredients, to build your spacecraft, too!
  • NASA Selfies App [Nebulas]  You can take selfies of your visitors with a nebula in the background with the NASA Selfie App. 
  • Eta Carinae’s Nebula in 3D [Nebulas]  This link will take you to a page that contains amazing images and videos about this nebula. In addition, you can download a 3D model of the nebula and 3D print it if you like!
  • Flight Through the Orion Nebula [Nebulas]   A beautiful rendering of a 3D journey through Orion’s Nebula. You can use this video to show how colorful nebula’s can be and you can see their 3D shape, too.
  • Smithsonian’s Step Inside a Supernova [Nebulas] The Smithsonian has assembled a great series of interactives and media to show the aftermath of an exploding star which formed a nebula.  You can travel through the nebula and as you go through, you can adjust which elements and features you see by adjusting the visualizations color scheme.
  • Recoloring the Universe [Nebula and Star Formation]:   If you’re looking for a great idea for a summer camp or afterschool program, this is a STEAM activity where students can learn a bit about coding and changing the representational colors of the universe.  There’s also great media here to show on the museum floor.
  • Birth of Stars and Protoplanetary Systems [Star Formation] If you want a fantastic overview of star formation, this is the place to start.  It will also prepare you for when the James Webb telescope launches and what that will mean to peering into the dust clouds that birth stars.  Fantastic images and videos.
  • Two Hubble Views of the Same Stellar Nursery [Nebulas and Star Formation]  Another 3D adventure into a nebula where stars are born.
  • Stars and their Lives [Star Formation]  If you want a longer interaction with visitors or in a camp setting, this activity goes into more depth about how the mass of stars determines what type of star they are.  And it goes into the entire life cycle of a star.

  • Peep and the Big Wide World [Water Play]  A wonderful website if you want to add a digital component for your youngest visitors.  The videos are especially cute and the duck videos might fit best if you want to keep to water, but there’s other videos and games that are great for extending open play and explorations with a variety of content.

  • Explore Water Pre-K Camp [Water Play]   This is a three week camp about water fully laid out for a pre-K group.  If 3 weeks is too much, there’s many,many activities to choose from in this curriculum and is a treasure trove of water activities for your youngest visitors. 

  • Sciencenter Early Childhood Resources for Educators [Water Play]  If you’re looking for open exploration activities from birth to three years old, this is another great resource from the Sciencenter, developed as part of the Collaborative for Early Science Learning. To complement Water Play, I’d recommend the “Categorizing” and the “Measuring” activities as they also use water and other phases of matter.

  • Paper Mountains and Ice Orbs [Water Play]  If you want to tie in a bit more Earth and space content with Water Play, NISE’s Paper Mountains and Ice Orbs would be good activities to pair with it.  Since there’s a lot of open exploration and inquiry based elements in these activities, they match well.  These are also good activities to have out if several of the kids in a group are older and need something that's more focused with more age appropriate content.

2019 Toolkit Extensions

  • Give and Take: Color, Heat & Light Science Activity [Temperature Mapping] This is a twist on our activity using a silver Sharpie and a great extension. Using a card or strip made of temperature-sensitive liquid crystal material, you can monitor temperature changes. By observing these changes, you can show that dark-colored materials absorb and re-emit the energy contained in light more readily than light-colored materials. 
  • The Heat is On: Urban Heat Islands, detection strategies, and mitigation solutions  [Temperature Mapping] From the activity description from NASA Goddard: "'The Heat is On' will teach students how to use innovative technology to understand the changing climate in urban areas and create solutions to the ongoing environmental problems in cities. Scientists in the field of urban ecology use tools such as satellites and thermal cameras to understand the effect impervious surfaces have on temperatures in urban areas and to show how implementing green infrastructure (pervious surfaces) can reduce the temperatures in these urban areas."
  • Solar Week Monday: Do the Activity - Measuring Solar Activity [Observe the Sun] This is another extended activity that uses the most recent photos of the Sun taken by SOHO. This would be for an older crowd (middle school and up), and you could compare what you see in the solarscope compared to what SOHO sees and how the sun looked in the past. AAAS Benchmarks: 12D/M1, 12D/P3, 11C/M7
  • Remote Control Roller: Experiment with Static Electricity [Static Electricity] If you want to extend this activity with a simple, open ended experience, the Exploratorium's Remote Control roller allows visitors to explore static electricity in an open play way. You could even use our "electroscope" with this activity. 
  • Sticky Tape Static Electricity [Static Electricity] Sticky Tape Static Electricity gets at the basics of static electricity and could be a good introductory or followup activity to our activity. What's interesting is that this activity has several others associated with it in the "iMAGINETICspace: Where Imagination, Magnetism, and Space Collide" activity guide: this would be a good start if you want to do a camp based on static electricity, magnetism, and space. AAAS Benchmarks: 4G/E3, 4G/M5 
  • Our Neighborhood in the Universe [Space Guess Quest] Here's an interesting activity that you could potentially use our board game with. Print out the "neighborhood" page...make sure it's nice an big, and have visitors place their cards where they think that those objects live. You could also print and use this activity the way it is, but if you have a visitor that wants to now more about the objects in Space Guess Quest, this might be helpful for continuing those conversations. AAAS Benchmarks: , 4A/M3, 4A/M1bc 
  • DIY Nebula Jar - Crafts for Kids [Space Guess Quest] There are many nebulas in Space Guess Quest but they're probably the least known space object on the game board. This is a great make and take activity that let's visitors experience what constitutes a nebula. Layer craft materials and mimic the wonder of an actual nebula in space with this DIY Nebula Jar! 
  • Mapping Our World [Land Cover] Explore how different missions have looked back at Earth. You can see where the most water has fallen and learn which satellite took that data. Land temperature and vegetation are included in this, too. 
  • Climate Kids: Make a Terrarium Mini-garden [Land Cover] This could be a great extension of the Land Cover activity by having kids make a terrarium. What plants would you choose to have if you want to slow erosion? Would be great in a summer camp. AAAS Benchmarks: 5E/P1 
  • Hold a Hill [Land Cover] If you have access to a slope where both natural and human construction has changed the landscape, this activity from UC Berkeley would be a great extension to our Land Cover activity for a camp.
  • Introduction to Cosmology  [Expanding Universe] If you need more background information about how scientists determined that the universe is expanding, this is a great place to start. For a quick start, you should click on "Our Universe" then "Expansion" to get to the nitty gritty, but the website as a whole is a good read. AAAS Benchmarks: 4A/H2ab 
  • Big Bang Science Fiction [Expanding Universe] This series of activities called "Cosmic Times" would be good for a camp for 7th to 12th graders. You can go through the history of how science gathered evidence and refined the age of our universe from the early 20th century to the 21st century. 
  • How Big is Our Universe? An Exploration through Space and Time [Expanding Universe and Space Guess Quest] For younger audiences who may have a hard time visualizing the scale of the universe, this very simple story time activity might help them visualize the Universe. You should print it in color, but also see if you can't simplify the language a bit. 

2018 Toolkit Extensions

  • Where Do They Come From? Crater Hunters [Craters] Another activity to extend our crater activity. Students use coordinates (latitude and longitude) to locate craters on a map of the Earth. Would be good for a camp activity for grades 5 and up. AAAS Benchmarks: 4C/M2a, 4C/M2b, 4A/M4

  • Ice Zones: Where We Look for Ice [Craters] “Ice Zones” would be a good follow up activity to our craters activity. Learners use models of the sun and planets to find craters that could block sunlight. In these dark zones, water ice could exist and that’s important information for future explorers. AAAS Benchmarks: 4A/M3, 4B/M2cd, 4B/M12, 4B/H3

  • Optics For Kids - The Optical Society: Exploring the Science of Light [Filtered Light] The Optical Society presents Exploring the Science of Light. This is a different take on our activity, but using gumballs, a shoe box, and colored cellophane.

  • The Three Little Pigments: Color & Light Science Activity | Exploratorium Teacher Institute Project [Filtered Light] Investigate how light and color interact by aligning cyan, magenta, yellow, and black transparencies. This is an Exploratorium Science Snack that may be used to visualize how an image looks different when only one wavelength is used.

  • Barycentric balls - orbits and the centre of mass | ESA [Objects in Motion] Although this activity says it for ages 14-18, the demonstration in the activity, developed by the European Space Agency, can be appreciated by all ages. Take four tennis balls and tether them together. In one ball, you also add more mass to it by filling it with metal pellets. You then toss the balls in the air you you can see the difference in motion between the two tennis ball pairs. You could also create different pairs, too, where there’s gradations of mass difference. Or if ambitious, gradations in density by including larger yet lighter balls to tether.

  • Think Scientifically: Adventures in the Attic [Objects in Motion] A picture story book about how two siblings created a model of the Earth, Sun, and Moon. Would be good for a grade school story time at a summer camp and a companion to our Objects in Motion activity for young learners. AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/H3, 11B/E4

  • Grown-up Moon: What do You See in Today's Moon? [Hide and Seek Moon] Great for young audiences as an additional activity after or before doing Hide and Seek Moon. This activity uses cultural origin stories about features of the moon. Afterwards, students will draw a character or object inspired by the Moon’s face and take that drawing home with them. AAAS Benchmarks: 4A/M3, 12D/P2

  • Blind Mice go to Pluto [Pack a Space Telescope and Hide and Seek Moon] Continuing the introduction of tools to see distant objects for young learners, “Blind Mice go to Pluto” incorporates story time with hands on activities that let’s kids “observe” distant planets with a ground-based telescope, space telescope, and fly-by probe.  AAAS Benchmarks: 3A/M2, 1A/M2

  • Neato-Magneto Planets [Magnetic Fields] This activity pairs well with our own magnetic field activity and makes it topical if you want to include a discussion about the Juno probe. It uses similar objects to our own activity and augments it in several ways. If you wanted to create more activity stations for visitors to explore Neato-Magneto would be a good start. Or if you wanted to create an extended camp/classroom activity for magnetic fields, this would be a good activity to include.

  • Magnetic Poles and Pulsars [Magnetic Fields] This activity reinforces our own magnetic field activity and expands the activity to the astrophysical objects called pulsars. If there are other astrophysics-based activities happening in your institution, this could be a good activity to add. This activity is associated with many activities found in the Supernovae Educator’s Activity Guide. It is also related to the NASA satellite mission, Fermi: AAAS Benchmarks: 4G/H7

  • Introduction to Magnetic Fields [Magnetic Fields and Pack a Space Telescope] The iMAGiNETICspace: Where Imagination, Magnetism, and Space Collide series is a fantastic comprehensive resource for magnetic fields and satellites. Not only is it a comprehensive introduction to magnetic fields, but it contains great hands on activities like building a “Soda Bottle Magnetometer.” You can use this as an extension to our “Pack a Telescope” activity if you want to have students “Pack a Satellite” for studying magnetic fields. AAAS Benchmarks: 4G/E2, 11B/M4, 12D/M6

  • Bottle Blast Off: Physics & Engineering Science Activity | Exploratorium Teacher Institute Project [Stomp Rockets] Experiment with rocket designs and a PVC launcher to discover how high—and how far—you can make your rockets go. This is another variation of stomp rockets using PVC and a 2-little soda bottle. It’s more of a DIY project as you could have students assemble the launch system as well as the actual rocket.

  • Achieving Orbit [Stomp Rockets] After doing Stomp Rockets, this activity would be a good follow up. Since it takes rockets multiple stages to achieve orbit, this activity uses balloons as stages to achieve a certain velocity and distance. It’s a fun design and engineering challenge that’s different, but related to our Stomp Rocket activity. AAAS Benchmarks: 11B/M6

  • Phoenix Mars Mission - Just for Kids - MarsBots [Mars Rovers] A comprehensive set of 17 activities centered around the exploration of Mars via robots and orbiting satellites. For example, you can have kids design their own Mars lander using edibles like candy. This series of activities can be picked about for individual table top demos or be used as the basis for day or two in a space/Mars summer camp.

  • Think Scientifically: The Sun and The Water Cycle [Paper Mountains] If you're doing Paper Mountains with a particularly young audience, this printable illustrated storybook would complement this activity very well. You could start or finish the experience with story time! AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/E3, 4B/M7

  • Runaway Runoff: How Does the Ground Affect Where Pollution Goes? [Paper Mountains] A part of the DIY Lake Science App produced by the Lawrence Hall of Science, this activity is a hands on activity about erosion and runoff with an environmental impact twist. Great for a camp or extended outdoor activity.

  • Rose Colored Glasses [Filtered Light] eClips are downloadable guides for educators for viewing and discussing NASA produced media. Rose Colored Glasses describes a similar activity to our Filtered Light activity, but it also points an educator to some great video clips about filtering light and the Hubble Space Telescope. Other e-clips can be found here

  • Exploring Craters eClips [Craters] eClips are downloadable guides for educators for viewing and discussing NASA produced media. This e-Clips pdf could help a museum educator with extending the craters activity using Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter videos and other crater-centric videos. Other e-clips can be found here

2017 Toolkit Extensions

  • Solar System Showcase • Beyond the Chalkboard [Pocket Solar System] A nice extension to the Pocket Solar System activity. Together visitors build a full body version the solar system. Note: It requires a 40 foot space but can be scaled up to a 100 yards!

  • Solar System in My Neighborhood [Pocket Solar System] A bigger version of the toolkit's Pocket Solar System make and take activity. It addresses the scale and distances of our solar system. Note: You'll need about 190 feet to do this activity and a pumpkin (or pumpkin sized melon). AAAS Benchmarks: 4A/M3, 11B/E4, 12B/M5

  • How Big, How Far, How Hot, How Old? [Pocket Solar System] A good extension to Pocket Solar System toolkit activity. Has an interesting premise about getting people to think about their mental models of scale and distance. Tip: Could be jazzed up as a game show instead of a survey. AAAS Benchmarks: 11D/P1, 11D/M3

  • Slingshot to the Outer Planets [Orbiting Objects] This activity pairs well with the toolkit's Orbiting Objects activity and can explain how we get probes out to outer planets and their icy moons. Visitors learn about the gravity assist or "slingshot" maneuver often used by engineers to send spacecraft to the outer planets. Using magnets and ball bearings to simulate a planetary flyby, students investigate what factors influence the deflection angle of a gravity assist maneuver.

  • The Pull of the Planets [Orbiting Objects] A variation on our gravity well activity that uses different materials and focuses more on a planet's gravity than a star's gravity. AAAS Benchmarks: 4G/M1, 12A/E1, 12D/M8

  • Which Planet Shall We Visit? [Pocket Solar System and Imaging Life] A creative supplement to the Pocket Solar System or Imaging Life toolkit activities. Visitors create a comic strip about a planet they would like to visit, why they'd go, and how they would get there. AAAS Benchmarks: 12D/P3, 12D/E2, 12D/E7

  • Astrobiology: Science Learning Activities for Afterschool [Imagining Life] This is a comprehensive afterschool (or camp) framework that build off of content covered in the toolkit's Imagining Life activity. Includes a range of activities about how to define life and where it could be found in our solar system or other planetary systems.

  • Icebreaker Activity: Is It Alive? [Imagining Life] A full-body experience to supplement the Imagining Life activity in the toolkit. This activity uses improv to get visitors thinking about how we define what is living and what is non-living.

  • Investigating Ice Worlds [Ice Orbs] A comprehensive supplement to the toolkit's Ice Orbs activity, the Investigating Icy Worlds site has an extensive guide with many different activities about how NASA is studying icy planets. Includes a range of activity experiences, from using mime to shining light through ice, for different audiences. AAAS Benchmarks: 4A/M3, 4F/E3, 4F/M8, 12A/P1, 12D/P3, 4A/H3

  • Make a Cloud Mobile: NASA Space Place [Investigating Clouds] A nice extension to the toolkit cloud activity. Visitors make a hanging mobile of different cloud types.

  • Teru Teru Bozu • Beyond the Chalkboard [Investigating Clouds] Learn about Japanese culture and ways they live with and view their cloudy, rainy season. Includes a fun make and take.

  • Hot Equator, Cold Poles [Rising Sea] If you want to talk about climate change, you may want to talk about seasons and the differences between seasonal weather and climate.

  • Earth's Water [Rising Sea] Climate and Water: This activity could be used to talk to visitors about how much water is on Earth and in what forms it comes in. A good supplement to the Rising Sea activity. AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/M7

  • Making a Gas You Can See [Investigating Clouds and Rising Sea] Great for our youngest learners: a story time combined with a science experiment (baking soda and vinegar). A good supplement for our Investigating Clouds and Rising Sea activities. AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/E4

Digital toolkits 

Digital versions of toolkits are available as a free download:

About the Project


This material is based upon work supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award numbers NNX16AC67A and 80NSSC18M0061. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).