Cook up a Comet View larger

Recipe for a Comet

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Create a “comet” using dry ice and household ingredients and use (optional) tools to observe how it models the features of a real comet.

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Provides classroom connections, key concepts, connections to science standards, and additional resources.

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Hints for uses in your library This demonstration uses dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide). This substance is extremely cold — never touch (or allow others to touch) dry ice with bare hands, and wear eye protection. Dry ice vaporizes to form gaseous carbon dioxide. Use adequate ventilation to avoid asphyxiation and always keep dry ice in a ventilated container so that pressure does not build up.
Related Links Websites:
• Night Sky Network (of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab)
• The Web's leading source of Information about Dry Ice

Videos:
• Impact Earth
• NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System: learn about our home planet, our solar system, the universe beyond, and the spacecraft exploring them with this downloadable application

Handouts:
• “Comets vs. Asteroids!”

Images:
• NASA Solar System Exploration
• Planetary PhotoJournal (NASA/JPL)
• Printed image of a comet

Is a comet currently visible in your night sky? Use the Night Sky Planner to see which objects are bright, and In the Sky to check out all of the comets! This demonstration is helpful for explaining why comets have tails as they approach the Sun.
Night Sky Planner
In the Sky

The bits of comets that fall off when they get close to the Sun are what often cause meteor showers here on Earth. When that happens, we are passing through the trail where a comet once passed.
Find out which comets produce some of the annual meteor showers

For some great activities to use with younger audiences, see NASA's Solar System Exploration site. It also talks about how the tail of a comet always points away from the Sun.
NASA's Solar System Exploration site
Originating Source Regents of the University of California/Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Related Books
[Suggest a book]
• 20 fun facts about asteroids and comets (Chiger, A., & Maley, A. H., 2015)
• Asteroids and comets (Graham, I., 2015)
• Collision course! Cosmic impacts and life on Earth (Bortz, F., 2014)

Reviews

Rating 
Participants Enjoyed the Activity 
Participants Learned from This Activity 
Activity Instructions Were Clear and Easy to Follow 
Would Recommend 
04/12/2018

Comet crafting!

We did this as an activity at a librarian conference. What a great idea! Very hands-on (definitely for older kids given the dry ice). Messy and fun way to learn about comet structure.

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Recipe for a Comet

Recipe for a Comet

Create a “comet” using dry ice and household ingredients and use (optional) tools to observe how it models the features of a real comet.