As a homeschooling parent, I taught science with a more hands on approach. I included several activities and experiments from a variety of sources. There are countless activities out there for students to do to learn more about the Sun, the Moon, and meterorites and their effect on the Earth. I have listed five activity suggestions geared toward 3rd and 4th graders.
MAKING METEORITE CRATERS
This experiment shows students the effect meteorites can have when they hit the Earth’s surface.
Step 1: Using newspaper, cover the work area.
Step 2: Put sand in a baking pan 2 cm thick.
Step 3: Have the child make a chart so they can note the height of the drop and the width of the crater.
Step 4: Using a small marble or rock and a ruler, drop it into the sand from a height of 25 cm. Then have them measure the width of the crater and record their observations.
Step 5: Repeat step 4 from the height of 50 cm, 75 cm, and 1 m.
Step 6: Now repeat steps 4 and 5 using a large marble or rock.
Be sure to discuss with your student their observations.
Another variation of this experiment can be found here: Making Moon Craters
In this activity, students can recreate sunspots. This is great to do right before learning about the Sun and its sunspots, prominence, and flares.
Step 1: Sprinkle iron fillings in a paper plate.
Step 2: Hold the plate while the child gently moves a horseshoe magnet around under the plate until all of the filings have been collected.
Step 3: Have the child observe the plate from above and discuss how this is similar to sunspots. How is this different from sunspots?
MAKING A SUNDIAL
This is an excellent skill to teach students. I don’t know how many times my children have used the sun to determine what the approximate time is. This also teaches children how the Earth’s rotation measures the time throughout the day.
Step 1: Using a poster board, have the child create the face of a clock. Also, put N for north above the 12.
Step 2: Go outside and using a compass, identify which way it north. Then, set the poster board down accordingly.
Step3: Use a straight stick to punch a hole in the center and through the ground to anchor the sundial.
Step 4: Observe the differences in the shadow on the sundial compared to the position of the sun. Repeat every hour to three hours. NOTE: Please do not have the child look DIRECTLY at the sun and is wearing UV protection sunglasses.
Step 5: Discuss what your child observed and any hypothesis on why they think this occurs.
In this experiment, it shows students how the moon changes throughout the month.
Step 1: Make a chart with 2 rows illustrating “how the moon looks” (new moon, last quarter, full moon, first quarter) and “how I was standing”.
Step 2: Use a desk lamp or flashlight to represent the sun and turn off the lights in the room.
Step 3: Have the child stand in front of the sun model with a white foam ball representing the moon at arm’s length.
Step 4: Have the child turn in place slowly and record their observances on how the light hit the moon model.
Step 5: Discuss with the child why they think the look of the moon changes in comparison to the Earth and the sun.
This shows students the difference in gravity between the Earth and the Moon.
Step 1: Find out how high you can jump here on Earth. Place a small piece of tape on the wall at the highest spot you can reach. Next, place a small piece of tape on the wall at the highest spot you can jump. Repeat this a few times to ensure your jumps are accurate.
Step 2: Measure the distance between the two pieces of tape. The distance between the two pieces of tape is the height you can jump here on Earth.
Step 3: To find out how high you could jump on the moon, multiply the height you can jump here on Earth by six.
Step 4: Now find out how many books you can lift on Earth. Tie a string around the books and lift the book with your elbow on the table.
Step 5: Weigh the books to find out how much they weigh.
Step 6: Now find out how much you could lift on the moon by multiplying the weight times six.
Step 7: Have your child discuss their observances. Also, ask them critical thinking questions like what sports they would like to play on the moon and what advantages they would have. Another question to ask regarding sports would be what rules of various sports would need to be changed.