A garden can be a reminder of life’s needs and our connection to the planet we call home. Children consider the requirements of living things and compare the surface conditions on Mars to those found on Earth as they plant gardens. Gardening tips and options for indoors and outdoors are provided.
Participants use pencilcode.net to undertake a series of simple programming exercises, including recoloring images of scenes, everday objects, and finally, a supernova and a region where stars are forming.
Hints for use in your library: No prior coding experience is necessary, but it does require access to the Pencil Code website (pencilcode.net) on laptops, desktop computers, Surface2 (with keyboard) or iPad2 tablets with wifi or Internet access. Visit a video introduction to using Pencil Code at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edN07wcbj2w. Have participants follow along with astronomers through each project and explain how it's connected to their research using the Recoloring the Universe video activity at http://recolor.pencilcode.net/.
Use craft materials -- and 3D printed models of astronomical models -- to model our Milky Way galaxy.
Hints for use in your library: If you are looking for a way to use your 3D printer with teen programming, try this activity! Teenage girls are responding well in pilot implementations of this beta version. The resources included on the website could be adapted as a craft activity for younger children. Please respond with your comments!
Celebrate the contributions of women astronomers and make your own spectrometer using a cookie or cereal box and diffraction grating slides.
Hints for use in your library: You may need to troubleshoot your spectroscope. If you don’t see a broadband of colors, try rotating the diffraction grating 90° (1/4 turn). If the slit is too wide, use pieces of black electrical tape to make it narrower and crisper.
Participants learn about the characteristics of life and conduct an experiment, searching for life in different soil samples.
Hints for use in your library: Tips for Engaging Girls in STEM:
1) Use group work and collaboration to help engage children. Girls benefit from collaboration, especially when they can participate and communicate fairly. Girls are energized by the social part of science, working and learning together. This activity gives the children the opportunity to collaborate and work together in a fun and engaging social environment.
2) Encourage critical thinking. Girls gain confidence and trust in their own reasoning when encouraged to think critically. This activity provides an opportunity for children to use their observational skills and think critically about identifying signs of life.
3) Expose girls to female role models who have achieved in math and science in order to promote positive beliefs regarding women’s abilities. If possible, have a female speaker share the science of astrobiology, and how scientists look for life in the universe. This activity also provides activity pages, Scientist Spotlight pages, and Trading Cards featuring female (and male) astrobiologists as an additional resource to connect children with careers in science and to challenge existing stereotypes of scientists.