Looking for fun and engaging educational resources in space science that you can do at home with your kids? Planetary Learning that Advances the Nexus of Engineering, Technology, and Science (PLANETS) is a program for youth in grades 3-8 that provides STEM learning with an emphasis on integrating NASA planetary science and engineering content.
Introduction to PLANETS and transition to PLANETS-at-Home
Planetary Learning that Advances the Nexus of Engineering, Technology, and Science (PLANETS) is an out-of-school time program for youth in grades 3-8 that provides STEM learning with an emphasis on integrating NASA planetary science and engineering content, particularly for underserved audiences. The USGS Astrogeology Science Center is a key partner in this interdisciplinary collaboration among educator professional development experts at the Center for Science Teaching and Learning at Northern Arizona University; curriculum development experts at the Engineering is Elementary program at the Museum of Science, Boston; education best practices research and development experts at WestEd STEM; and a group of DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion & accessibility) learning experts. Since 2016, the PLANETS team has developed three curricular units: Remote Sensing, Water in Extreme Environments, and Space Hazards. Each unit has a series of science activities that develop investigative science concepts and a series of engineering activities that follow an engineering design process and develop critical problem-solving skills. (see https://planets-stem.org)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the PLANETS team converted parts of these units into activities that can be delivered to youth at home. Each activity has a guide sheet that covers information for the youth to learn about the concepts and includes materials for youth to explore the curriculum.
In addition to the units, the PLANETS team developed the Ask-a-Scientist portal and are collaborating with planetary science subject matter experts from the USGS and NASA to answer questions asked by youth. Youth have the option of asking a question directly through the website, or through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using their (or a parent or guardian’s) account. Our subject matter experts will then post a video to the USGS Astrogeology social media pages and to the PLANETS-at-Home webpage answering the question.
A hazard is a danger or risk that can cause harm to our health, life, or property. Hazards are all around us here on Earth, and hazards exist all over the solar system. This interactive card game explores how hazards on other planets and asteroids may be similar to those on Earth, and how they may be different than the hazards we may experience here. The activity then steps into hazards further by exploring how to avoid and mitigate (reduce the danger of) hazards encountered on Earth and in space – how do astronauts avoid hazards, or if a hazard is encountered, how can it be mitigated? Visit the link below to learn more about how to play the Space Hazards card game at home!
Remote sensing is the investigation of something without touching it, for example, using satellites to track weather patterns on Earth. Planetary scientists use this technique to learn about the surfaces of other planets and asteroids using instruments on satellites, rovers, and telescopes. Youth are introduced to the concepts of remote sensing, light, and how rovers and satellites use remote sensing to tell different minerals apart. Click the link below and scroll down to the Remote Sensing activity to find the instructions and more resources such as videos, images, and NASA Mission connections.
Water in Extreme Environments
Life on Earth requires water to survive and people need clean water for many everyday uses. The Earth is covered in water in many forms – liquid water, solid water (ice and glaciers), and water vapor (atmosphere). Students will learn where in the solar system water exists (planets, moons, and asteroids) and in what forms that it is present through a deck of playing cards and several games we’ve developed. Visit the link below to learn more about how to play the Water in Extreme Environments card game at home!