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Space-themed projects your kids will love (and learn from, too)

Julia Christensen is an experienced tutor and professional writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

Here are some fun ways to teach kids about space

“That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” On July 20, 1969, at 10:56 p.m. EDT, Neil Armstrong took that “small step” and became the first person to walk on the moon. Help your child shoot for the moon and celebrate the upcoming anniversary with these five space-themed projects.

1. Watch the original footage

Get online and watch footage from the first moon walk together. Hear Neil Armstrong’s famous words, see what has been left on the surface and find out more about the goodwill messages. Don’t forget to research the other astronauts involved with this mission and others, as well as the Space Race as a whole, to give your student a more well-rounded picture of space exploration.

2. Create a solar system

Creating a solar system is a classic childhood project, and for good reason! Help her visualize what is around us with a do-it-yourself model. Depending on your child’s age and interests, you can use any number of things to create a solar system. Beads and jewelry elastic can make a solar system bracelet, and table tennis balls and a clothes hanger can make a solar system mobile. Would she prefer papier mache? Craft foam? Balloons? There are plenty of options.

3. Research the latest news in space

Head over to NASA.gov and read up on the latest bits of space news. Look at satellite images, see what’s new in asteroid redirection, and find out about the planned future trips to Mars. There are even a variety of podcasts available on the site covering many space topics. Other fun site features include countdowns, ebooks, apps and games. There is even an entire section of the site just for children.

4. Make a moon out of cheese

Ask your student what she thinks the moon is made of... could it possibly be... cheese? She may be too young to have heard this phrase, so fill her in and get started with a yummy project. Take a round cookie cutter and create the cycles of the moon using cheese slices. When you’re done, you can use your moons to create a galactically good sandwich.

5. Build a stomp rocket

Try visiting the moon yourself... or at least see if your rocket can make it up to that tree branch. Stomp rockets are inexpensive, simple, do-it-yourself projects you can build and use in your backyard. You can create a stomp rocket at home using a plastic soda bottle, a bit of PVC pipe and a paper rocket to create DIY entertainment. Once assembled, you stomp on the bottle to push out the air, which then propels the rocket off the PVC pipe. There are many variations of this project, so find directions for one you like online and get to work with your student. Talk about what makes the rocket shoot off of the launcher, think of fun ways to decorate the rocket without weighing it down or discuss ways to alter the launcher for maximum distance.

For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit varsitytutors.com.

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