Best Space and Astronomy Lesson Plans and Resources
by National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz
Space and astronomy are ways to get students interested in space and also enhance your ability to use lessons that require reading and math as per the Common Core requirements. With the anniversary of America’s First Space Walk (http://life.time.com/history/space-walk-nasa-edward-white-makes-history-june-1965/#1) nearly 50 years ago coming up in June it could be just the teachable moment to create interest in that event as well as research the future and make a case for where we will be in space in another 50 years.
Very few things get students interest as much as the future, especially when there can’t be a wrong answer. I even have toyed with the idea of placing their ideas in a time capsule and keeping it on campus until they day they return. Here are some tips if you are going to bury it: http://www.bl.uk/blpac/faqtime.html. I would prefer to just leave it in the school library where the students could check on its contents in future years.
There is another option and that is to have the student sent a time capsule to themselves in the future. You need to check what is going into the capsule, but is is more fun for the students and easier for them to access in the years ahead. http://www.mytimecapsule.net/
My students at Suzanne Middle School in Walnut have sent their ideas about the future to the Griffith Park Observatory for its time capsule to be opened at the arrival of the Halley’s come in 2062. Needless to say, I won’t be around for it and the students who created it are going to be in their 70’s, but the idea of it gave students the motivation to start thinking and that is what good education is about. http://articles.latimes.com/1985-11-01/local/me-865_1_time-capsule-griffith-observatory-halley-s-comet
Another lesson that I like to use to promote thinking is Space News (http://www.space.com/news). It offers students the opportunity to read interesting and factual stories and to use them as a starting place for their own science fiction writing.
Using images of space often gets students thinking about space travel and there is always the possibility of having students build their own rockets and fly them as the ground crew measures the altitude that they reach. http://www.scienceinschool.org/2012/issue22/rockets
I also like to have students looks at the Constellations from the perspective of those in the Northern Hemisphere and those in the Southern Hemisphere. Here is the Southern Hemisphere information http://www.dibonsmith.com/downunder.htm and here is the Northern Hemisphere information: http://www.windows2universe.org/the_universe/Constellations/north_constellations.html
Finally, having the students write and produce their own play about space is very motivating for them as they have to solve the problems of how to make the audience believe they are in space. The props could include fairly accurate drawing. Regardless of what method you use, the theme of space and astronomy are valuable lessons for students that can motivate them and work as a tool to make science, history, language arts, and math more interesting and meaningful.
Important of math in space travel
This is the main NASA site
Some of the information may be of value. What is interesting for older students is the Pathways program signed into law by President Obama that enables students to work for NASA.
Discovery Education has a large offering of lesson plans.
For every grade level. A fantastic collection.
Remote sensing can be useful in studying numerous disciplines, from biology to ecology to geography. The material in Earth from Space therefore can be used to satisfy the requirements of many .
Space and Flight
High Interest stories
Daily Science Fiction Short Stories
Allows the students to read and get ideas for their own creations.
Where you can submit good science fiction short stories
This is competitive, but worth a try.
A free map of the sky
This is an intriguing site that the students might want to explore on their own.