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Grandma's Place A Natural Learning Center

Grandma's Place of Natural Learning Center

Is The Best Place for Learning


The Universe for Space Week in July for Summer

Posted on September 13, 2014 at 10:28 PM
This Unit is out of Book (57) and it is also can be infiltrated into the beginning lessons of the year by starting out with lesson about our Earth and its elements of Air, Land, and Water.

                                   "Exploring The Universe by Teddy Meister

The vastness of space and the secrets it holds unfold a little more each time a shuttle is launched or a probe sent into deep space. Our fascination for "what's out there" has existed throughout the ages. As we become more technologically sophisticated, our visions of space stations and interplanetary explorations and travel become more realistic. A study of our own "space environment," planet Earth, and its relationship to other objects in the "space community" (solar system) can provide us with a kindred linking to the cosmos.

Cosmos (from the Greek Kosmos)
Order, harmony, hence the world as an orderly system. "The universe as an embodiment of order and harmony; the system of order and harmony combined in the universe." Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition.

                       The Cosmic Focus--Galaxies

Our sun is in a vast group of stars called a galaxy. Our galaxy, the great Milky Way, contains tens of billions of stars, some that are two million light-years away. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 5,880,000,000,000 miles per year! It travels at the rate of 186,000 miles per second. This means that light reaching our eyes from stars in this galaxy left those distant stars about two million years ago. An incredible thought to consider. We are one tiny part of the Milky Way, where 100 billion other stars also exist. If each star had a name, it would probably take 4000 years to say their names if we could say one every second without stopping! Other galaxies are so tremendously far away it is almost impossible to imagine. Some travel as fast as 70,000 miles a second and collectively contain about as many stars as there are gains of sand on all the world's seashores.

Cosmic People--Sir William Herschel (1738-1822)
This English astronomer and his son conducted studies at the end of the 18th century to count stars and observe the shape of the Milky Way. They tried to estimate the approximate size of the system and the relationship of earth withing the system.

Comprehending the Cosmos
  1. Read more about the experiments of Sir William Herschel and his son. What were their conclusions? Were their theories accepted? Explain their findings. Start a card file of "Cosmic People." Add a biography card for each of the people you find in this unit.
  2. In the 1920s, American astronomer Harlow Shapely realized earth was not in the center of the galaxy. He observed a sphere-like halo around a point many thousands of light-years away. Make a sketch of the Milky Way. Can you see the special shape it has? Can you estimate where our solar system is?
  3. The Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, is an example of a galactic cluster of stars within the Milky Way. It has six stars visible to the naked eye. Create a "follow the dots" picture of the Pleiades.
  4. If the sun were closer to the edge of the Milky Way, how might the galaxy appear to us? Explain your opinion and why you think this.
  5. Galaxies are among the most distant objects in space we can study. Quasars are even further away. Find out about these distant "space cousins." How are galaxies and quasars alike? How are they different?
  6. Galaxies are among the most distant objects in space we can study. Quasars are even further away. Find out about these distant "space cousins." How are galaxies and quasars alike? How are they different?
  7. If some type of life form did exist elsewhere in space, what might this life form look like? Draw several sketches of animal life and several of plant life.
  8. Read some science fiction stories. Here is a starter list to select from:
          Bradbury, Ray. The Martian Chronicles
          Burnford, Sheila. The Incredible Journey
          Heinlein, Robert. Have Space Suit, Will Travel
          L'Engle, Madeleine, A Wrinkle in Time
          Lewis, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia
          Strasser, Todd. The Mall from Outer Space
          Wells, H. G. The War of the Worlds

                                         The Cosmic Focus--The Moon

Our satellite, or moon, is about 2160 miles in diameter. With its lack of air and water, the moon cannot support human life. There is no gravity, but the moon still affects our lives every day through the movement of ocean tides. It exerts a pull on the water on the part of the earth nearest to it. On the opposite side, where the pull is least the water bulges away from the moon. These tides occur at different times of the day and depend on the position of the moon as it travels around earth. High tides are about twelve hours apart; low tides are between each high tide. One of the highest daily tides can be seen between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the Bay of Fundy. Many times this tide will rise as much as seventy feet above low tide levels.

Cosmic People--Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

This Italian astronomer was the first to sight the mountains of the moon, the four largest satelites of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and the spots on the sun. His theories and principles of the pendulum were applied to regulate clocks and standardize timekeeping.

Comprehending the Cosmos

  1. The moon has different "looks" as it travels around the earth each month. These are called moon phases. Describe the phases of the moon and draw an illustration of each.
  2. A person's weight on the moon is one-sixth what it would be on earth. If you weighed 90 pounds here, you would weigh just fifteen pounds there--a great way to lose weight. Compute your weight and the weight of ten classmates. Display your findings on a graph entitled "Earth Weight, Moon Weight."
  3. An eclipse of the moon, or lunar eclipse, can only occur during a full moon and can be seen everywhere on the side of the earth facing the moon. It lasts about two hours, and the earth's shadow causes it to look reddish. Explain how this differs from an eclipse of the sun, or solar eclipse. Draw and label a diagram to represent your explanation.
  4. NASA's early landings on the moon in the 1960s provided us with tremendous first-hand knowledge. Rilles (canals) and craters were explored and studied in greater detail than ever before. "Seas" were examined and many rock samples brought back to earth. Create a news article that might have appeared in your (family newspaper) about these events. Think up a catchy story headline.
  5. From Earth to the Moon, by Jules Verne, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke, are two excellent stories about the moon and space exploration and are quite different in style. Select one to read. When finished, design a new book jacket for it. (Can't get the titles of these books to Italized nor be underlined I am sorry.).
  6. Space technologists and scientists have concluded that if there were "hospital" facilities built on the moon, someday people could go there for medical treatment. You would heal ten times faster from surgery, cuts, and wounds than you do on earth! Lunar explorations of the 1960s also brought about the development of freeze-dried foods. Many benefits for all people have been outgrowths of the space program. Write a speech you could present to a group of legislators who wanted to cut back funding for space programs. What would some of your arguments be to convince them not to do this?
  7. Gather books, articles, and some of the completed activities from this section and organize a "Moon Resource Box" for other classes to use in a study of this kind.
  8. Begin to gather all materials, activities, filmstrips(movies and videos from youtube and of your own), and pictures to organize a "Cosmically Speaking" learning center. Add the work of (the children) and think of how this can be a culminating activity. You might invite (others) to visit.

                                         The Cosmic Focus--Objects in Space

Meteors are small solid masses entering earth's atmosphere at such tremendous speeds that friction is generated when the objects "rub" against earth's air. We see the meteor as a "falling star." Most are as tiny as pins. About one million reach our atmosphere every hour! Larger meteorites can weigh many tons. One of the largest, found in 1920 in southwest Africa, was 9 feet by 8 feet and weighed 66 tons. Among other objects in space are comets, from the Latin word coma, meaning hair, for the great tail of dust and gas streaming from it. When comets are within 100 million miles or so from the sun they are the most distinguishable.

Nebulas appear as great clouds of gas far out in space. Appearing as rings, they glow like distant stars as they are lighted from stars nearby. Another unusual star form in space is a nova, which is a star that has exploded and is thousands of times brighter than before. Black holes have their origins in novas.
In the great mass of the universe, many objects are left to be discovered. Among the millions and billions of galaxies and the space between them, the cosmos gives us a lot to think about (as follows:0
  • The earth travels around the sun at a speed of about 18 miles per second. How fast does it travel per minute? per hour?
  • A telescope called the Hale reflector has a 200-inch mirror and can detect the light of a candle 15,000 miles away. Construct a simple telescope of your own.
  • The largest known asteroid is Ceres, which measures about 620 miles in diameter.
  • Some believe the end of the dinosaurs was due to a meteor crashing to the earth. Find out more about this theory.
  • Besides the sun, planets, and moons, the solar system includes millions of asteroids and trillions of comets and meteoroids.

Cosmic People--Edmund Halley (1656-1742)

Halley's Comet is named for this English astronomer who first observed it in 1682. He was able to calculate the orbit of this comet and predict a return sighting for 1758 and every 75 years after that. He used Newton's theories and was the first to accurately apply the laws of motion to movement of the comet. The most recent sighting was in 1982.(There may have been one closer in time to us than that Grandma is not sure.)

Comprehending the Cosmos

  1. In recent times, the Van Allen belts are using the diagram to communicate your ideas.
  2. Black holes are fascinating objects fro study. Find out about their relationship to novas and prepare a five-minute talk. Use note cards to summarize what you have learned.
  3. The Crab Nebula, a great cloud of gas stretching over 17 billion miles, has been spreading about 684 miles  per second. Get an eyedropper of water and some blotter paper. Squeeze a drop of water onto the blotter and time the spreading speed. Do this several times, recording the speed each time. When it dries, measure the diameter of each drop. This will give you some idea of what the Crab Nebula is doing.
  4. How did Edmund Halley discover the comet named for him? What gave him the idea? Write a brief report about Halley's life and discoveries. Compute the next visit of the comet.
  5. Make an "Object in Space" scrapbook. Illustrate and explain each of the objects shown in bold print on the previous page. Add others as you read and study.
  6. A long time ago people created stories about space objects they observed but didn't understand. Create a story based on one of these objects. Add it to your scrapbook.

                            The Cosmic Focus--Planets

Among all the planets in the solar system, our home on planet earth provides a "friendly" environment for human survival. Curiosity about the rest of the "space neighborhood" has persisted since early times. We have learned much but still have a long way to travel on the road to knowledge.

Cosmic People--Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)

A German astronomer, Kepler's laws describe the motion of planets in their orbits. He stated that planet orbits are ellipses with the sun as a common focus, planets form orbits of equal areas, and planetary revolutions are mathematically proportional. His laws are true today and are still applied by scientists studying the nature of space.

Comprehending the Cosmos

  1. Construct a mobile of the solar system. Use a wire hanger. Think about a scale first so that the sun is the largest and (go to)  the smallest.
  2. On May 4, 1989, the deep-space probe Magellan was launched from space shuttle Atlantis. A special radar system in the probe can figure out the shape and height of a planet's surface features. Recently, more detailed views of Venus were transmitted and released to the public. If you were a NASA scientist, what questions would you want answered about Venus? List four or five questions.
  3. Why is Magellan a good name for this probe? Who was the real Magellan? What did he do? Write and explain what you think.
  4. How are Magellan, Columbus, and the Vikings like our astronauts today? What common traits do they all have? Do all explorers need these same traits? What do you think?
  5. Look at a planetary comparison chart as you research and extend your own space knowledge. Which is the largest in size? Make an ordered list of the planets from largest to smallest. What other comparisons can be made from the chart? Most moons? Coldest? Longest year?


from Sun

  in Miles
 of Moons
Sun Rev



millions miles
  24 hours
  365 1/4
3/4 water
  life support






          6.  What if interplanetary travel were possible? Create a travel poster to lure tourists to one of
               the planets. Think of special clothing, equipment, and supplies they would need to pack
               for the trip. How long will it take to get there?
          7.  A planet (instead of) Pluto has been discovered! ...write a description for what it might be
               like.(Grandma is not sure on this yet.)

                                      The Cosmic Focus--The Sun

The internet temperature of this ever-burning star is estimated at about 27,000,000° F. This gigantic energy machine uses four million tons of matter per second to produce energy. It is so huge that a million planets the size of earth could fit inside! Ninety-three million miles from us, it takes the sun's light about eight minutes to journey here traveling at 186,000 miles per second. With a diameter of 1,392,00 km, it is "fixed" in position, as are all stars. Great shooting flames (solar prominence) are hundreds of thousands of miles high. As the center of our solar system, it is truly an awesome sight to behold. It is important to every living organism on planet earth.

Cosmic People-- Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)

Copernicus was a Polish monk who discovered that the sun, not the earth, is the body around which the planets revolve. His research and experiments during the period in which he lived were not popular and were not accepted until much later. (People then believed the earth was the center of the solar system and everything revolved around it.)

Comprehending the Cosmos

  1. Corona and sunspots are related to the sun. What are they? Find an explanation of each and record the definitions.
  2. Sunlight, or white light, is divided into seven colors known as the spectrum. Take a prism and a sheet of paper outside. Squat down so that the sunshine is over your shoulder and behind you. Move the prism in front of you so that the sunlight passes through the prism. Set the sheet of paper on the ground so that when the sunlight is angled just right through the prism, it will pass through the opposite side in a rainbow of colors you can see on the paper.
  3. The same principle of light passing through a prism also applies to a rainbow. When moisture is in the air, it acts as a prism and causes the spectrum, or rainbow, to become visible to the naked eye. The colors will always be in the same order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Create a poem about rainbows. Investigate refraction and diffraction of light.
  4. Earth receives less than 1/2,000,000,000 of the total amount of energy the sun sends out. If this small amount of solar energy performs all the life-sustaining functions for humans, animals, and plants, imagine what could be done by using it more as an alternative source of energy! What new ways could it e used? Can you think of a new solar-powered bicycle? Solar-powered skateboard? Draw a new solar-powered invention.
  5. An eclipse of the sun is called a solar eclipse and can occur only during the new moon. Find out about this special type of eclipse. What special precautions are needed for viewing one? When was the last eclipse of this kind in your area? When will the next one occur?
  6. The distance between the earth and sun is 93,000,000 miles. This number can also be written as 93 x 1,000,000 or 93 x 10 to the 6th. (Can you see the pattern between exponents and number of zeros used?) Wit this method of scientific notation, 10 is the base and 6 is called an exponent. Think of it as 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 or 1,000,000. Scientists prefer this method (notation) because it is much quicker! Solve the following:
          a. 8 X 10 to the 3rd                b. 10 to the 4            c. (3 X 10 to the 3rd) + (8 X 10 to the 2nd)
       7. Create a set of number problems using scientific notation. Explain and share this method
           with (others).
       8. Select other large numbers you have come across in this study of space and convert them to
           scientific notation. Make a poster showing the new way of writing larger numbers.

(This is all Grandma has on Space for now. She will cover the rest of July tomorrow and do August's Calendar History. There will not be anymore activity units from Book (57) for August.)


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