Family FAQ

Explore the wonder of space exploration from home. Here you can find out how to make rockets, Mars rovers and Moon landers out of materials you have at home. Scroll down to explore educational activities families can do at home, video tutorials (available with subtitles en Español) and an FAQ. Be sure to check back. We're adding more all the time!

› Standards-aligned lessons for educators available, here!


How We Use Coding to Explore Mars

Learn how we use coding to build and operate Mars rovers and the Mars helicopter, then follow along with coding projects from NASA.


Grades 3-5

Calling future space explorers! NASA-JPL designs, builds, tests and operates robotic spacecraft that explore the solar system. Join us on our adventure from home, where you can learn where the Sun gets its energy, program a Mars rover game, and build an origami Starshade. Plus explore more at the links below!

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Grades 6-8

Calling all middle school students: NASA-JPL uses robots to explore the solar system and learn more about Earth, and you can explore right along with us! Learn how to command a Mars rover by programming your own video game, build a model of a Jupiter-orbiting spacecraft to investigate magnetism, engineer a lunar lander to protect astronauts, observe the changing seasons from space, and a whole lot more. Plus, check out the links below and keep an eye out for more fun stuff.

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Grades 9-12

Are you interested in taking on challenges, doing projects and learning about science with NASA? Try your hand at engineering a rover, learn how origami is used in building spacecraft, get the scoop on black holes, or even program your own video game! Boost your knowledge on science topics by tuning into talks by JPL scientists and engineers, learning more about climate change, and participating in NASA citizen science!

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Family FAQ

Consider blocking a daily schedule in a way that gives you time to get them started, whether that’s giving instruction about a topic or concept, having them start on teacher-assigned work or getting them started with an online course. Give them a series of projects or assignments to work on independently while you have a chance to work.

As they work, if they have questions, they can write them down and continue, or move on to the next independent task. Then have a check-in time with you where you can go over their questions, check the progress of their work, etc. Perhaps repeat that schedule several times throughout the day.

If they get stuck or finish with their tasks and you’re still working or it’s not time to check in yet, they can have a selection of other things they can do until that time. This might mean their school day is extended, but with longer or more frequent breaks throughout the day to accommodate your need to work. If you’ve got a parenting partner, try alternating whose turn it is for instruction in the morning, and alternate check-in breaks.

It’s best to have kids working at a level that is comfortable, yet challenging, for them. Sometimes, pairing older and younger kids together for a task can yield amazing results and learning for both.

Talk to your older children about asking good questions as they involve younger children and letting the younger children make some decisions in the process. Also, have older children demonstrate a model they’ve built for younger kids.

Let the younger kids play with the model and ask questions of the older children. Explain to older children that one of the best ways to learn about something is to teach it and to answer the sometimes simple but tough questions a younger child will ask.

A full day of teaching, parenting and working is probably not in the cards for most people. Instead, consider starting with a shorter day of instruction that works for you and your child, and building up to a longer day as everyone adjusts.

When all else fails, reading is a sure bet. Whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, comic books or magazine articles, reading or being read to is beneficial.

If there are specific subjects that your child struggles in, or excels in, focus on those. Remember, anything you’re able to do is better than nothing.

Many of our activity materials are quite flexible and the activities are totally doable with other materials. It's ok to substitute other materials or, if possible, leave some out. In fact, finding creative solutions to a problem is what many of our activities are about and it's something NASA engineers and scientists do every day. Make it part of the learning process!

Asking your child questions is one of the best things you can do. You don’t need to have all the answers. In fact, learning alongside them can be a lot of fun – for them and for you!

Ask them to explain what they are doing and what their goal is. Once they are done, have them show you what they’ve accomplished. Ask them: How did you go about solving this problem? Is this your first try at this? How does it work? Does it work the way you want it to? Is there something you could do to improve your design? How do you decide whether you have the best working model?

Most of our activities are discovery-based and have a number of “right” answers or positive outcomes. If the activity is an engineering challenge in which kids need to build something that works, you’ll be able to tell if they get a working model. It’s always a good idea to ask them, “Is there something you can improve on to get even better results?”

If the activity is math-based, you can find the answers on our website, sometimes on the lesson guides. Also, keep in mind that you don’t need to have all the answers. Having kids explore and learn on their own is empowering to them and teaches them they are capable!