International Space Station Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Anna Reinking

Anni taught elementary school for eight years and is currently teaching college. She received her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.

This lesson will discuss the International Space Station. You'll learn about how the International Space Station was created, what happens in the International Space Station, and other interesting facts.

What Is the International Space Station?

If you've ever looks up at the night sky to look at the countless stars, then you may have caught a glimpse of the International Space Station. The International Space Station is a satellite that humans made to orbit (or make a curved path around) the Earth about 15-16 times per day. It is also a place where astronauts can live while they do research and experiments. From Earth, it looks just like a star, except it doesn't blink, and it's often the brightest thing in the sky aside from the moon.

International Space Station
ISS

This space station, called the ISS for short, is the biggest man-made object in space--almost as big as an American football field and weighing about 500 tons. Despite its huge size, it travels at an amazing speed, moving at more than 17,000 miles per hour. That's about 5 miles every second!

How Did the ISS Get to Space?

The ISS is made up of 15 modules, or parts, and is very big. So, the whole thing couldn't be sent up into space in one piece. Rather, each part was sent up separately and assembled in space. The first module of the ISS was named Zarya and was sent into space on a Russian rocket in 1998. Since Zarya first arrived in space, other modules of the ISS have been sent and attached at a steady rate, creating a larger space for astronauts to live and work in.

Zarya, the first module of the ISS
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Since that first piece was sent to space, nearly 20 different nations have sent astronauts to the space station. But of all the nations that have visited the ISS, only five are primarily responsible for working together to keep the ISS in space and functioning: the United States, Canada, Japan, Europe, and Russia.

Life on the ISS

Astronauts conduct some very cool research on the ISS, including studies in physics, astronomy, meteorology, and even biology. For instance, in July 2015, researchers on the ISS investigated the way that fire acts in space (they found that it burns very easily!) so they can come up with effective ways to extinguish flames in emergencies. They can even collaborate with people on Earth through advanced communication tools.

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