This year’s Collaborative Summer Library Program theme is “A Universe of Stories.” To help libraries prepare, the Florida Division of Library and Information Services collaborated with NASA@ My Library and the STAR Net Libraries to provide a hands-on workshop in Tallahassee.
Last week’s blog post covered the STAR Net Libraries website, which has a plethora of resources available for upcoming summer reading programs as well as resources for general STEM programming. This week, I’m going to provide information on some of the activities we did at the workshop.
The slide presentation for the workshop can be accessed at https://goo.gl/PyrHQ8.
The Red Mars Game that we played at the beginning of the workshop was a great ice-breaker. Presenter Christine Shupla had us all get up in one big circle. Then she started throwing imaginary planets to us. “Mars is small, so don’t lose it,” and then she’d call out someone’s name to catch Mars. That person would then “catch” the planet, call out another person’s name, and throw the planet to them. And so on. She also introduced Saturn by spinning her finger around in the air (“rings”), and Jupiter as a huuuuge planet, so she held her arms out wide. And Pluto is tiny, so we had to be extra careful with it. It may sound corny, but it was actually a lot of fun!
The next activity was sorting space objects (planets, constellations, galaxies) by either how far they are from us or how big they are. Christine provided pictures of the objects on paper, and each group tried to put them in order. It made for some lively discussion in our group: “Hubble only takes photos of far-away objects; it is actually located in Earth’s orbit.” J You can duplicate this activity by going to http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/77-how-big-how-far-how-hot-how-old.html and downloading the PDF with the pictures. And the correct answers!
Presenter Andy Shaner next discussed the scale of our solar system. He introduced an activity called “Jump to Jupiter” and a group of attendees demonstrated how far apart the planets are. He said to really show the scale of the solar system, you would need three football fields to go from the sun to Pluto. Wow! Slide #17 shows how many “jumps” between objects. You can duplicate this activity by going to http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/65-jump-to-jupiter.html. The activity can be scaled down, of course. Some participants plan to use a community walking path to demonstrate the scale, similar to StoryWalks. You can also visit http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/solar_system/ to learn how to build a scale model of the solar system.
Then we assembled the moon’s phases with Oreos. Mmmmm…. You can duplicate this tasty activity by going to http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/83-loony-lunar-phases.html.
Other activities included creating craters (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/89-crater-creations.html), teen moon ooze (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/activities/81-teen-moon-moon-ooze.html), creating a UV tester (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/earth-science/93-uv-kid.html), making a supernova (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/214-let-s-make-a-supernova.html), creating space-landing gear that will protect your astronauts (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/engineering/235-touchdown.html) [full disclosure – our group struggled with this; we had astronauts flying out all over the place!], and a trip to Mars (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/67-trip-to-mars.html).
Another cool resource that you can download to your computer for free or on your mobile device for a small fee is Stellarium (https://stellarium.org/). Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars, or a telescope.
And if you’ve ever wished you could show lunar and meteorite samples, you can borrow some from NASA (https://ares.jsc.nasa.gov/interaction/lmdp/). However, you do have to attend a training session first, and those are normally held in Houston.
You can also request that STAR Net send you pop-up traveling exhibits at https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/education/exhibits. Designed for libraries, these banners use colorful images and text to share current lunar and asteroid science and exploration stories. The displays can be used to excite and engage patrons in further exploration through library resources and programs.
This was a really fun workshop and provided great activities for your summer reading program and any other STEM programming you do!
Fellow attendees, if I missed anything (and I’m sure I did), please share in the Comments section.