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Classroom Launch Pad 2011

Classroom Launch Pad 2011


It's an exciting time for space and science education, and we want to help you launch into the school year with these back-to-school resources from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Take your students along for the ride as NASA/JPL prepares to embark on one of its busiest years of launches and stellar discoveries yet. Organized by NASA/JPL mission themes, this page is designed to give your classroom a front-row seat to amazing science and discoveries in 2011.

> More classroom activities and resources

AQUARIUS - Mapping Salt in Earth's Oceans

AQUARIUS - Mapping Salt in Earth's Oceans

About the Mission: Launched this June, NASA's Aquarius mission has already begun its measurements of sea surface salinity to better understand the role Earth's waters play in climate change. 

Why Teach It? Students can gain a better understanding of the water cycle and how ocean circulation influences climate change.

> Learn more about the Aquarius mission


Classroom Activities & Resources


Evaporation Investigation
Evaporation Investigation
Activity Type: Classroom activity
Grade Level: Elementary school
Time Required: Two 60-minute activities
Description:Observe and understand the process of evaporation with two hands-on activities.



Potato Float
Potato Float
Activity Type: Classroom activity
Grade Level: Middle school
Time Required: 45 minutes in class (after preparation)
Description: Understand how the same object can both sink and float, depending on its density relative to a fluid.



The nature of salt
The Nature of Salt
Activity Type: Classroom activity
Grade Level: High school
Time Required: 45 minutes
Description: Students research the structure of salt to understand the difference between molecular compounds and ionic compounds.



water balloon demo
Water Balloon / Climate Demo
Activity Type: Video demonstration and activity
Grade Level: elementary, middle school and high school
Time Required: 30 minutes or less
Description: Try this activity using a water balloon to show how Earth's oceans are absorbing most of the heat being trapped on our warming world.



sea salt quiz
Sea Salt Quiz
Activity Type: Online Quiz
Grade Level: Middle school and high school
Time Required: 30 minutes or less
Description: Test your knowledge of ocean salinity and its relationship to climate change.




JUNO - Peering beneath the clouds of Jupiter

JUNO - Peering Beneath the Clouds of Jupiter

About the Mission: Launched this August and arriving at Jupiter in 2016, Juno will for the first time peer beneath Jupiter's thick cloud cover to learn more about how the planet formed and the role it played in putting together the rest of the solar system.

Why Teach It? Students can learn about the composition and history of giant planets, including the mysterious Jupiter.

> Learn more about the Juno mission

Classroom Activities & Resources


Jiggly Jupiter
Jiggly Jupiter
Activity Type: Classroom activity
Grade Level: Elementary school
Time Required: 45 minutes
Description: Students build edible models of Jupiter and Earth to compare their sizes and illustrate their internal layers.



Heavyweight Champion Jupiter
Heavyweight Champion: Jupiter
Activity Type: Classroom activity
Grade Level: Elementary school
Time Required: 30 minutes
Description: Students weigh themselves on scales modified to represent their weights on other worlds to explore the concept of gravity and its relationship to weight.


Unlocking Jupiter's Mysteries
Unlocking Jupiter's Mysteries
Activity Type: Video
Grade Level: Elementary, middle and high school
Time Required: 3-minute video with optional discussion
Description: Scientists and engineers discuss the properties of Jupiter and what NASA’s Juno mission will learn when it arrives at the gas planet.



Juno Discovery Guide
Discovery Guide: Juno Mission to Jupiter
Activity Type: Online reading
Grade Level: Elementary, middle and high school
Time Required: 30 minutes
Description: Students can flip through an informational slideshow and learn fun facts about Jupiter and NASA's Juno mission to the mysterious planet.



GRAIL - Mapping Gravity on the Moon

GRAIL - Mapping Gravity on the Moon

About the Mission: Launching in September, the GRAIL spacecraft are headed to the moon to unlock mysteries hidden below its surface by creating the most accurate gravitational map of the moon to date. 

Why Teach It? Students can learn more about the composition and phases of the moon or even have the opportunity to choose photographic targets for the MoonKAM aboard the GRAIL spacecraft.

> Learn more about the GRAIL mission

Classroom Activities & Resources


Moon Phases
Moon Phases
Activity Type: Classroom activity
Grade Level: Elementary, middle and high school
Time Required: 30 minutes
Description: Students learn about the rotation and dynamics of the moon by "acting out" lunar phases.



Lunar Surface
Lunar Surface
Activity Type: Classroom activity
Grade Level: Elementary, middle and high school
Time Required: Varies
Description: Students will use modeling clay or plaster of Paris to construct model surfaces to match what they see on maps and photographs of the moon.



Lunar Surface
Reaping Rocks
Activity Type: Classroom activity
Grade Level: Elementary, middle and high school
Time Required: Varies
Description:Students make predictions about the origin of lunar rocks by collecting, describing and classifying rocks from their neighborhood.



How to Make a Crater
How to Make a Crater
Activity Type: Video / Activity
Grade Level: Elementary and middle school
Time Required: 3-minute video / 45-minute activity
Description: This video demonstrates how cake ingredients can be whipped into a moon-like crater. The activity works in classrooms, camps and at home.



GRAIL MoonKAM
GRAIL MoonKAM
Activity Type: Classroom interactive
Grade Level: Middle school
Time Required: Varies
Description: Register your classroom for the GRAIL mission’s MoonKAM, led by Dr. Sally Ride. Participating classrooms can choose surfaces on the moon for the GRAIL spacecraft to photograph and track their images online.



DAWN - Exploring the Giant Asteroid Vesta

DAWN - Studying the Giant Asteroid Vesta

About the Mission: The Dawn mission, which arrived at its first target, the giant asteroid Vesta, in July, will study this object and another, Ceres, to learn more about the origins of our solar system.

Why Teach It? Students can learn about the composition and history of asteroids as well as the role these rocky objects played in the evolution of our solar system.

> Learn more about the Dawn mission

Classroom Activities & Resources


Make a Model Asteroid
Make a Model Asteroid
Activity Type: Classroom activity
Grade Level: Elementary school
Time Required:Varies
Description:Students mold clay into model asteroids, adding pebbles, beads or other small materials to see how unique these space rocks can be.



What's a Dwarf Planet?
What's a Dwarf Planet?
Activity Type: Classroom activity
Grade Level: Middle school
Time Required:1-3 days
Description:Through a unique study of vocabulary and its evolution, students learn how to define and identify a planet and a dwarf planet.



Vegetable Light Curves
Vegetable Light Curves
Activity Type: Classroom activity
Grade Level: High school
Time Required:Varies
Description:Students observe the surface of rotating potatoes to understand how astronomers can sometimes determine the shape of asteroids from variations in reflective brightness.



Dawn Mission Video
Dawn Mission Video
Activity Type: Video
Grade Level: Middle and high school
Time Required:15-minute video and optional discussion
Description:NASA’s Dawn mission scientists and engineers explain the science of asteroids and meteors and technological challenges of visiting the Asteroid Belt.



MARS SCIENCE LABORATORY - Journeying to Mars

MARS ROVER CURIOSITY - Exploring Mars

About the Mission: Following in the footsteps of NASA's twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, will journey to Mars starting in November to study the planet in unprecedented detail and search for signs of past life. 

Why Teach It? Students can learn about the Red Planet and what it takes to design and launch a space mission.

> Learn more about the Mars Science Laboratory

Classroom Activities & Resources


Marsbound
Marsbound! Mission to the Red Planet
Activity Type: Classroom game
Grade Level: Elementary, middle and high school
Time Required: Varies
Description:This fun board-game activity teaches students the process of design, engineering and technology on a mission they create for Mars.



ROVERQUEST
ROVERQUEST: Greetings from Gusev
Activity Type: Classroom activity
Grade Level: Middle and high school
Time Required: 45 minutes
Description:This activity will place students in the role of scientists as they use observational and critical thinking skills to analyze and hypothesize about an image of Mars.


Getting Dirty on Mars
Getting Dirty on Mars
Activity Type: Classroom activity
Grade Level: Middle and high school
Time Required: Three to four 50-minute class periods
Description:In this lab activity, students compare soil from Earth to simulated Martian soil.



Ask Dr. C
Ask Dr. C
Activity Type: Online interactive
Grade Level: Elementary, middle and high school
Time Required: Varies
Description:Dr. C. is a computerized scientist designed to answer questions about Mars.



Curiosity Rover Trailer
Curiosity Rover Trailer
Activity Type: Video
Grade Level: Elementary, middle and high school
Time Required: 1.5-minute video and optional discussion
Description:This animation shows the major mission events of the Curiosity rover's landing on Mars scheduled for August 2012.