Children of all ages can investigate different aspects of the planets, from their scale and distance to their physical properties. Certain concepts are better for older audiences (ages 10 and up) that have an understanding of gravity, density, magnetic fields, various chemical compounds, and more.
These recommendations are tailored for organizations and clubs such as libraries, planetariums, science centers, astronomy clubs, and scout troops.
Events could include bringing in speakers, holding shows in a portable planetarium, or an evening telescope observing session. Consider getting in touch with local astronomical societies, planetariums, and museums, local scientists (astronomy and geology departments at nearby universities are a good place to start), and NASA's Solar System Ambassadors -- ask them to join your events and share their experiences or resources with the children.
Be sure to submit photographs, artwork, music, or words of your community enjoying your activities to Share Your Stories.
| Jupiter's Family Secrets: Planet Party || In this 30-minute activity children, ages 7 and up, and their families go outside on a clear evening and view the sky to see the planets for themselves. Using sky charts and other resources, and possibly in partnership with a local astronomical society, children navigate the night sky and view planets with the naked eye and binoculars or telescopes. |
| Best of the Solar System || This activity introduces students to planetary research. Using some of the most famous and interesting images of the solar system, students learn to focus on details by studying uncaptioned images. Next students increase their knowledge of the planets and their features by comparing their observations to those of real researchers. Students organize their findings to infer a key difference between inner and outer planets. |
| Dunking the Planets || In this 30-minute demonstration, children ages 9-13 compare the relative sizes and masses of scale models of the planets as represented by fruits and other foods. The children dunk the "planets" in water to highlight the fact that even a large, massive planet -- such as Saturn -- can have low density. They discuss how a planet's density is related to whether it is mainly made up of rock or gas. |
| Investigating the Insides || In this 30-minute activity, teams of children, ages 9 to13, investigate the composition of unseen materials, using a variety of tools. This open-ended engagement activity mimics how scientists discover clues about the interiors of planets with cameras and other instruments onboard spacecraft. |