STEM Short Activities

 

NASA STEM Short Activities: STEM Stars Webchat Series

“NASA STEM Stars” is a webchat series that gives students ages 13+ the opportunity to connect with subject matter experts at NASA.

Each chat introduces a STEM career, addresses a STEM topic and highlights a NASA mission. The broadcast also highlights a STEM activity that students can do at home. After the interview, students can ask the NASA experts questions and share their completed activities on social media using #NextGenSTEM.

Watch this short video for a preview of what to expect!

 

Upcoming:

January Series

NASA STEM Stars Historian

Date and Time: Jan. 19, 2021 @ 2 p.m. ET

NASA Role Model: Dr. Christian Gelzer from the Armstrong Flight Research Center

STEM Short Activity (45 min)

Learn about the history of supersonic flight and the sonic boom

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Materials Needed: 

  • Computer and internet access

Register here!

 

NASA STEM Stars en Español: Executive Assistant

Date and Time: Jan. 27, 2021 @ 2 p.m. ET

NASA Role Model: Carmen Arevalo from the Armstrong Flight Research Center

STEM Short Activity (60 min)

Following this activity, students will be able to:

  • Amplify and reduce sound.
  • Demonstrate understanding on how sound travels.

Difficulty: Moderate

Materials Needed: 

  • Paper towel tube
  • Two plastic cups
  • Scissors
  • Pencil or marker
  • Cell phone

Register here!

 

Archives:

September 2020 Series

Train Like an Astronaut

Held on Sept. 1, 2020  |  Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Robert Cabana from Kennedy Space Center

STEM Short Activity (11 videos, 2-3 min each)

Students can participate in physical activities modeled after the real-life physical requirements of humans traveling in space. 

Difficulty: Easy

Materials Needed: 

  • Computer with internet access
  • Materials vary for each video

 

STEMonstrations: Surface Tension

Held on Sept. 8, 2020   |  Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Jennifer Scott Williams from Johnson Space Center

STEM Short Activity (video)

Following this activity, students will be able to:

  • Describe why water has a high surface tension compared to other liquids.
  • Identify the effects of surface tension with water on Earth and in microgravity

50 minutes   |   Difficulty: Easy

Materials Needed:

  • Pennies (1 per group)
  • Small disposable cups (1 per group)
  • Water droppers (1 per group)
  • Enough water to fill cups and droppers
  • Water spray bottles (1 per group)
  • Hydrophobic silicone polymer (any automotive windshield treatment for water repellent will work - 1 container should be enough for entire class to conduct experiment 1 time)
  • Pen/paper to record data (1 per group)
  • Paper towels (5 per group) 

 

Heavy Lifting (Becoming the Artemis Generation)

Held on Sept. 15, 2020   |   Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Pedro Lopez from Johnson Space Center

STEM Short Activity (Web; Video & PDF)

Construct balloon-powered rockets to launch the largest payload possible.

30-60 minutes   |   Difficulty: Easy

Materials Needed:

  • Large binder clips (one per launch pad)
  • Fishing line or smooth string
  • Balloons (5-inch x 24-inch long balloons work best, but round balloons will work if long balloons are not available)
  • Balloon hand pumps (optional)
  • Bathroom size (3 oz.) cup
  • 2 straight (non-bendable) drinking straws
  • 50 small paper clips
  • Sandwich-sized plastic bag
  • Masking tape
  • Wooden spring-type clothespins or small binder clips
  • Printout of Heavy-Lift Rocket Mission Report

Exploring Exoplanets

Held on Sept. 17, 2020   |   Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Eric Smith from NASA Headquarters

STEM Short Activity (Web; Classroom activity)

Calculate the movements of planets in our solar system and other star systems.

30-60 minutes   |   Difficulty: Moderate

Materials Needed: 

  • Worksheet
  • Calculator (optional)

 

STEMonstrations: Orbits

Held on Sept. 24, 2020   |   Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Vianni Ricano Cadenas from Langley Research Center

STEM Short Activity (video)

Understand the relationship between speed, distance, and orbits.

50 minutes   |   Difficulty: Moderate

Materials Needed: 

  • Pencil
  • Student Activity Sheet
  • Calculator (optional)

 

Design a Crew Model

Held on Sept. 30, 2020   |   Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Dawn Martin from Kennedy Space Center

STEM Short Activity (PDF)

Following this activity, students will be able to:

  • Apply the steps of the engineering design process to successfully complete a team challenge.
  • Design, build, and test their crew module.
  • Collect data after each drop test for analysis and comparison with other groups.
  • Improve their model based upon the results of the drop tests. 

60 minutes   |   Difficulty: Moderate

Materials Needed: 

  • Mailing tube, oatmeal canister, or small coffee can (used as a size constraint)
  • 2-cm plastic figurines, 2 per team (e.g., LEGO minifigures)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Metric scale
  • Meterstick
  • Paper and pencil for brainstorming
  • Copies of Student Handout and blank paper

General building supplies:

  • Paper or foam cups
  • Paper or foam plates
  • Index cards
  • Aluminum foil or plastic wrap

 

October 2020 Series

Thermal Coating Engineer

Held On Oct. 7, 2020   |   What the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Nithin Abraham: Thermal Coatings Engineer from Goddard Space Flight Center

STEM Short Activity (60 minutes)

Students will work together as a team to design and build a heat shield that will protect the contents 60 minutes (candy) of a crew module (paper cup) from a simulated atmospheric reentry (hair dryer).

Difficulty: Moderate

Materials Needed: 

  • Copy of Educator Guide (pgs. 29-34)
  • Hairdryer
  • Mini chocolate candy bars
  • Various materials for testing

 

STARS en Espanol Systems Engineer - Internships

Held on Oct. 13, 2020   |   Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: NASA Intern Panel (NASA Agency-wide)

STEM Short Activity (60 minutes)

Students will engage in a series of demonstrations focusing on the forces of flight using different materials and shapes to determine which are the most and least susceptible to lift, weight, drag and thrust.

Difficulty: Moderate

Materials Needed: 

  • Fan/Box fan
  • Ruler
  • Tape 
  • Straws 
  • Patterns for 3D shapes 
  • Paper 
  • 2 objects of equal size, but different weights (i.e. notecard vs. plastic cutout)

 

OSIRIUS REx

Held on Oct. 14, 2020   |   Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Hannah Kaplan: Research Space Scientist from Goddard Space Flight Center

STEM Short Activity (45-60 minutes)

Following this activity, students will be able to design and build a device that can take a core sample from a potato “asteroid”.

Difficulty: Moderate

Materials Needed: 

  • Copy of Educator Guide (pgs. 29-34)
  • Hairdryer
  • Mini chocolate candy bars
  • Various materials for testing

Photographer: Webb Space Telescope

Held on Oct. 19, 2020   |   Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Chris Gunn: Photographer from Goddard Space Flight Center

STEM Short Activity (20 minutes)

Following this activity, students will be able to model the life cycle of a massive star using beads to represent a star’s development.

Difficulty: Easy

Materials Needed: 

  • Pony beads in various colors
  • string or yarn
  • tape
  • scissors
  • Printed copy of bookmark on card stock paper

Aerospace Engineer - Artemis Green Run Test

Held on Oct. 21, 2020   |   Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Dominic Lunde: Aerospace Engineer from Aerojet Rocketdyne

STEM Short Activity (30 minutes)

Following this activity, students will be able to assemble their own Moon Kit with the items they would pack for a trip to the Moon fit within a 5-by-8-by-2-inch (12.7-by-20.3-by-5.1-cm) volume of space

Difficulty: Easy

Materials Needed: 

  • Ruler
  • Various items

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November Series

Launch Vehicle Trajectory Analyst

Held on Nov. 4, 2020   |   Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Phillip Hargrove from the Kennedy Space Center

STEM Short Activity (120 minutes)

Following this activity, students will be able to:

  • Construct and use an altitude tracker and analyze data from the flight of a rocket.
  • Construct and use an altitude calculator to estimate the height of a rocket at apogee.
  • Use a tangent table to estimate the height of the rocket at apogee and compare the result to that of the altitude calculator.

Difficulty: Moderate

Materials Needed: 

  • Altitude tracker template
  • Altitude calculator template
  • Copy of tengent table
  • Student handout
  • Thread or lightweight string
  • Cardboard or posterboard
  • Glue
  • Clear tape
  • Small washers
  • Milkshake straws
  • Brass paper fasteners
  • Scissors
  • Razor blade knife
  • Meter stick or tape measure
  • Rocket and launcher

 

Astrophysics with Webb Telescope (Part 1) (Part 2)

Held on Nov. 12, 2020   |   Watch the archives - Part 1 & Part 2!

NASA Role Model: Dr. John Mather from Headquarters

STEM Short Activity (45 minutes)

Following this activity, students will be able to compare a simple telescope to both the Webb Telescope and the Hubble Telescope.

Difficulty: Moderate (MS or HS level student)

Materials Needed: 

  • Computer or tablet  capable of running an HTML game

 

 

 

 

 

NASA STEM Stars en Espanol: Space Environments

Held on Nov. 12, 2020   |   Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Luz Maria Martinez from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

STEM Short Activity (30 minutes)

Following this activity, students will be able to:

  • Gather data on space radiation shielding by observing a flashlight beam as it shines through different material
  • Gather data by measuring, predicting, counting and weighing the materials that 
  • Analyze the data and select the most protective and lightweight material for a space exploration spacecraft

Difficulty: Moderate

Materials Needed: 

  • Construction paper
  • Card Stock paper
  • Copy Paper
  • Tissue paper
  • Flashlights
  • Balance or scale
  • Gram weights or small paper clips
  • Metric rulers
  • Eye protection

 

Deputy Director - Heliophysics Science Division

Held on Nov. 16, 2020   |   Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Antti Pulkkinen from Goddard Space Flight Center

STEM Short Activity (60-120 minutes)

Following this activity, students will be able to:

  • Be able to use a liquid passing through a tube to collect energy from the sun
  • Improve their original design to capture the most heat energy possible

Difficulty: Difficult

Materials Needed: 

  • 2 paper cups
  • 3 feet clear plastic tubing
  • Large sheet of cardboard
  • Aluminum foil
  • Black marker
  • Black paper
  • Pitcher of water
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Straws
  • Duct Tape
  • Gooseneck lamp with 100W bulb (or sunlight)
  • Indoor/outdoor thermometer

December Series

NASA STEM Stars: Heliospheric Physicist

Held on Dec. 3, 2020   |   Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Dr. Georgia DeNolfo from Goddard

STEM Short Activity (30 minutes)

Following this activity, students will be able to demonstrate understanding of Solar Energetic Particles and how damaging they can be to spacecraft and satellite electronics.

Difficulty: Easy

Materials Needed: 

  • Computer or other digital device

 

NASA STEM Stars: Astrophysicist - James Webb Space Telescope

Held on Dec. 9, 2020   |   Watch the arhive here!

NASA Role Model: Dr. Hashima Hasan from Headquarters

STEM Short Activity (30 minutes)

Following this activity, students will be able to:

  • Calculate the angular sizes and scales of distant objects
  • Demonstrate understanding that different sized telescopes see details with varying degrees of clarity (Grades 7-9)

Difficulty: Difficult

Materials Needed: 

  • Paper/pencil

NASA STEM Stars en Español: Ingeniera Aeroespacial

Held on Dec. 16, 2020   |   Watch the archive here!

NASA Role Model: Rosa Avalos-Warren from Goddard

STEM Short Activity (30 minutes)

Following this activity, students will be able to:

  • •    Learn more about the Artemis lunar exploration systems
    •    Enhance artistic skills

Difficulty: Moderate

Materials Needed: 

  • Paper/pencil