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For Teachers

Neat Science Activities

For your convenience, we have separated these activities into two categories: classroom-ready hands-on activities that can be printed and online activities that require the use of a computer

Hands-on Activities

Science NetLinks MESSENGER Page

Here you will find many of the MESSENGER activities, interactives, and resources that are found elsewhere on this MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach site, along with unique interactive games and additional resources.

Hawaii Space Grant Consortium: Exploring the Planets in the Classroom

This site contains more than 25 hands-on science activities for the classroom. Exploring topics such as the Earth, the planets, geology, and space science, it provides classroom-ready materials for both teachers and students.

Elizabeth Roetteger’s Science Activities

The homepage of Elizabeth Roetteger, a planetary scientist and educator, lists a series of hands-on science activities such as the following:

Impact Cratering This lesson has students creating and measuring model craters.
Toilet Paper Solar System Students describe the relative distances of planets from our sun using a roll of toilet paper! In the advanced version, describe the eccentricity of orbits in terms of the varying distance from the sun.
Toilet Paper Geologic Time Scale Use a roll of toilet paper to measure out the 4.6 billion year time span since the Earth formed to scale.

Exploratorium Snacks

Dozens of pages full of Snacks…but not the kind you eat. They’re the kind you can learn from and have fun with. Exploratorium Science Snacks are miniature versions of some of the most popular exhibits at the Exploratorium. Some of these tidbits include:

Persistence of Vision Use a cardboard tube with a narrow slit to show how your eye adds together strips of light to give you the impression of a larger image.
Reflections of a Star A reflected image of the Sun can be used to observe the earth’s rotation and to measure the angular diameter of the Sun

The Thousand-Yard Model, or The Earth as a Peppercorn

This outdoor exercise has students visually demonstrate how big the Solar System is. Students will make a scale model of the sizes and spacings of the planets using common household materials.

Constructing a Pinhole Protractor

Scroll down past the main article to find the start of this activity. This lesson teaches middle or high school students to build and use an inexpensive device for estimating the angular sizes and distances of objects.

Project CLEA

Project CLEA has developed web-accessible laboratory exercises that illustrate modern techniques of observational astronomy, for high-school and college-level classes. In particular, you’ll want to check out the lab "Measurement of the Rotation of Mercury by Doppler Radar".


Online Activities

Science NetLinks MESSENGER Page

Here you will find many of the MESSENGER activities, interactives, and resources that are found elsewhere on this MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach site, along with unique interactive games and additional resources.

The Best of the Solar System

This activity introduces students to planetary research. By studying some famous images of the Solar System, students improve their ability to recognize planets and surface features. In the exploratory activity, students learn to focus on details by studying uncaptioned images, then compare their observations to those of experienced researchers.

Your Weight on Other Worlds

This web site will automatically calculate what you would weigh on the Moon, other planets, other moons and some stars. It also provides additional information on the difference between weight and mass, as well as the relationship between gravity, mass, and distance.

Your Age on Other Worlds

Here you can automatically calculate your age in other planetary"days" and "years". In addition, it provides information on the rotation and revolution periods of the planets, as well as introducing Kepler’s Third Law.

Solar System Trading Cards

In this simple web-based interactive game students answer factual questions about the Solar System and collect "Solar System trading cards". It can serve as a fun review for elementary school students.

Center for Earth and Planetary Sciences: Earth Day Activity

Learn about remote sensing and how satellite images are used to study Earth’s surface. This Earth Day Activity allows students to test their skills at interpreting satellite images. At the end you and your students can test their skills in the Geography From Space Quiz.

Sky View Cafe

If you have a Java-enabled web browser, Sky View Café is a free Java applet that allows the viewer access to many kinds of astronomical information, in both graphical and numerical form. For example, you can find which stars and planets are visible in the sky above your hometown, tonight or any night. You can see solar or lunar eclipses or determine when Mercury will be visible in the sky. Sky View Café includes star charts, a 3-D orrery, displays of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, an astronomical event calendar, an ephemeris generator, and many other features.