We figure a good number of you have this week off along with your children. You may want some cool things to do with them during the week and engage them in learning. There are plenty of things you can do if you know where to look. We at Almost Rocket Science thought we would try and put together a list of some ideas for you to do with your children.
Wave at the International Space Station
A neat activity to do with your family is wave at the ISS as it passes over. The ISS completes an orbit of the Earth every 90 minutes so quite often it is visible in your location. The first step towards this activity is to check to see if and when the ISS will be visible where you live. To do that you will need to go to the following website and input your location: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/ The next step is to figure out where you will need to look in relation to your view of the sky. You may need a compass or you can use Google Maps or an equivalent. Take all the information you possess and head out at the proper time. Look for a bright star-like object moving at a consistent speed across the sky. It will not be blinking. Wave at the 6 inhabitants aboard the ISS if you like. You can also post your viewing location on ISS Wave website
More facts about the ISS: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html
Note: NASA also offers some great iOS Apps which can help you learn more about what they are doing and even explore the ISS.
View the Night Sky: Planets Abound
A great activity to do with the family is to get out and view the night sky. This month features plenty of planets to spot. This can be done with a good set of binoculars or even a small telescope. (Note: We caution you before you run and buy expensive gear to consider going to a star party or local observatory and get plenty of advice and information. A lot of gear can be frustrating to use if you have little experience.) Here is what you can see this week/month.
- Mercury will be in the eastern sky at sunrise all month, but will be very low for observers in the Northern Hemisphere. Southerners will fare better: this will be their best morning apparition of the year.
- Jupiter continues its stay in Taurus. It is high in the western sky in the early evening and sets in the northwest around midnight.
- Saturn is in opposition in Libra on April 28. It is visible all night.
- Neptune is in Aquarius all month, now visible in the morning sky.
The moon is also set to be full later this month and even though that makes it harder to spot objects in the night sky, the moon itself is worth observing intently. Here is a list of the Lunar 100 or 100 features you can search for on the moon. http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/moon/3308811.html
Get Outside and Take a Hike!
One great way to enjoy the warming temperatures and flowers blooming, trees budding and wildlife returning is to take a hike with the family. Not only will you benefit from the physical activity, you can teach your children about the different types of plants and trees in your area. You will likely see more birds and wildlife, especially in the north as spring is returning. You can also inspire some rockhounds and look at the geology of the area. In fact the possibilities to connect to learning are endless. Check to see if your local or State Parks/Forests are offering classes or guided tours.
Visit a Local Museum
There are plenty of Science and Technology or even History museums around the country, which can provide a day of fun and learning. Many of them offer discounts or great programs during the week off. Check with each museum for more details about what they offer this week.
Try This At Home: Experiments
I remember my father getting my brother and I a chemistry set when we were younger. We would do an experiment or two every weekend. It was non-stop fun. Here are some fun experiments you can do at home with basic materials. There are plenty of other ideas/sites out there so search away. http://www.sciencebob.com/experiments/
Whatever you are doing with your family this week be sure to enjoy it. Take breaks from all the entertainment to connect with them and if possible teach them something new each day. My father always said, "if you don't learn something new each day, you've wasted the day." Be safe and enjoy!