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.

 

Upcoming:

October Series

Aerospace Engineer - Artemis Green Run Test

Date & Time: Oct. 21, 2020 @ 2:00 p.m. ET

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

Register for the live event!

 

November Series

Launch Vehicle Trajectory Analyst

Date & Time: Nov. 4, 2020 @ 2:00 p.m. ET

Register for the live event!

 

Deputy Director - Heliophysics Science Division

Date & Time: Nov. 16, 2020 @ 2:00 p.m. ET

Register for the live event!

 

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