National Geographic and Bill Nye the Science Guy hosted a panel discussion with NASA scientists. The panel discussed the history of major developments over the last fifty years of space exploration. The half hour discussion was recorded and is available to watch online. Watching the video, embedded below, prompted me to review some of the many resources for learning about space exploration that I’ve discovered over the years. Here are ten of my favorites.
Station Spacewalk Game
is designed for middle school students to learn about the purposes and
functions of the International Space Station. In the game students go on
Extravehicular Activities modeled after real EVAs performed by
astronauts. Station Spacewalk can be played online or downloaded for free as a Windows game or as a Mac game.
NASA’s Lunar Electric Rover Simulator is
a free iOS app that lets you explore the moon. The app is really a game
in which players perform tasks to support the activities of a lunar
outpost. Players transport items from place to place and along the way
encounter lunar challenges to overcome. The app also includes an
interactive gallery of images. You can download the app for free from iTunes.
NASA 360 is
a series of videos about NASA’s work. The episodes examine
NASA’s technological and scientific work. The episodes discuss how
NASA’s work is used not only in space exploration but also in elements
of our modern everyday lives. The episodes can be downloaded from the NASA 360 page or viewed on Hulu.
In the 25 minute video
below former commander of the International Space Station, Sunita
Williams takes viewers on an in-depth tour of the International Space
Station. In the video you’ll get the answers to almost everything you
may have wondered about regarding living in space for weeks or months at
a time. Williams shows us the laboratories, the space suits for space
walks, the kitchen, and the sleeping quarters. Williams even shows us
the space station’s “outhouse” and goes so far as to explain the
different types of toilet paper on the space station.
We Choose the Moon is a project put together by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. We Choose the Moon has eleven stages that viewers can follow as the mission progresses. If you visit We Choose the Moon you
can explore image and video galleries capturing the sights and sounds
of the lead-up to the launch. Included in these galleries are videos of
President Kennedy talking about the goal of putting a man on the moon.
Planet In Action
is a fun website that features games based on Google Earth. In the Moon Lander game you take control of the Apollo 11
moon lander and guide the Eagle to touch-down.
NASA has an excellent interactive timeline tracing the history of astronomy and space exploration from the Greek philosophers through today. Planet Quest
is actually three timelines combined into one. The three timelines
cover technology, discovery, and culture as it relates to astronomy and
space exploration. Each element on the timeline is narrated. Users can
select individual elements on the timeline or choose autoplay to hear
the narration of each item in sequence.
The Scale of the Universe 2
features a huge selection of objects in the universe that are arranged
according to size and scale. You can zoom-in on the image to objects as
small as neutrinos and quarks or as large as planets, constellations,
and galaxies. When you click on an object in The Scale of the Universe 2
a small window of information about that object pops up.
is a free iPad app produced by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Spacecraft 3D uses augmented reality technology to bring NASA spacecraft
to life on your iPad. To get started using the app you first need to
print out the spacecraft target codes. Then your students can scan those
target codes with their iPads. The spacecraft then becomes a 3D model
that your students can explore.
NASA Space Place is a
sizable collection of fun projects, games, animations, and lessons about
Earth, space, and technology. Before playing the games or attempting
one of the projects, students should explore the animations and facts
sections to gain some background information. The projects section of NASA Space Place provides
teachers, parents, and students with directions for hands-on projects
like building a balloon-powered rover, building relief maps, and
building a moon habitat. The games section offers thirty games covering
all of the subjects in the animations and facts sections.