Space Experiments for Kids

Instructor: Cara Rogers
To get inspiration for experiments that you can conduct in your classroom, take a look these fun ideas and the companion lessons that are all about space science!

Outer Space Experiments for Young Explorers

Bubble-Blasted Rockets

Teach your students about the driving power that pushes a rocket into space by allowing them to work in teams to create their own spacecraft! Before you start, use this Astronomy for Elementary School chapter, which offers video lessons on the space shuttle system, planets, astronauts, and more. For this experiment, you will need:

  • Two to three 8 x 5'' index cards per student
  • Plastic 35mm film canister- Note: The cap must fit on the inside rather than the outside rim
  • Tape
  • Coloring materials
  • Scissors
  • Fizzing antacid tablet (such as Alka-Seltzer)
  • Paper towels
  • Water
  • Protective eyewear (such as lab goggles or glasses)

1. Hand out all of the materials needed to each student group. Allow the students to decorate their index cards however they like. These will make up the bodies of the rockets. Ask the groups to make up team names and/or mascots to include on their spacecraft.

2. Students should wrap the 5'' side of one index card around the film canister with the open end facing outward along the bottom edge. Then, have them tape along the connecting seam and the bottom edge of the 8'' tall cylinder ensuring that the paper is secured to the canister.

3. Using the other index card, students can cut out 2-3 small triangles and tape them near the bottom of the tube to work as fins.

4. With the remaining index card paper, ask them to cut out a cone for the top of their rocket. To make things easier on your students, you can prepare this part for them by drawing the lines in advance. For older students, you can have them measure the tube and calculate the cone size themselves.

5. Ask your class to now put on their eyewear. Students should turn their rockets upside down and carefully pour water into the canister until it is about ¼ of the way full.

6. Ask the students to drop ½ of the antacid into the canister and quickly put on the lid. They should flip the rocket right side up again and step back. Watch to see which teams' rocket flies highest!

Weigh a Space Explorer

If you're interested in a simpler experiment for your class, this one might be just the ticket! Show your students how gravity works by letting them explore how much they would each weigh on different planets! Use the Newton's Laws and Weight, Mass & Gravity video lesson to introduce your class to the topic. You will need:

  • Planet Weight Conversion Chart
  • Calculators
  • Scratch paper

1. Copy the Planet Weight Conversion Chart below onto the board for your class to reference:

Planet Multiply Your Earth Weight By: Your Weight on This Planet:
Mercury 0.4
Venus 0.9
Earth 1
Moon 0.17
Mars 0.4
Jupiter 2.5
Saturn 1.1
Uranus 0.8
Neptune 1.2
Pluto 0.01
Sun 28

2. Ask your students to write down the weight that they are currently on a piece of paper. If they don't know, ask them to guess.

3. Tell your students to follow the chart and use their calculators to find their weight on various planets in outer space!

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