NASA's Curiosity rover gears up to begin its study of Mars just in time for the start of school. Following Curiosity's adventures of exploration can help keep kids excited about science and space. The Space Place, along with our new mobile applications, can help too.
Introducing Space Place Prime!
Space Place Prime is a spinoff of The Space Place, but for the iPad and a multigenerational audience. It is a content presentation app, updated daily via wireless connection, which gathers some of the best and most recent offerings from NASA. It taps timely educational and easy-to-read articles from the website, as well as daily updates of NASA space and Earth images and the latest informative videos.
The interface is a grid of images, which you can slide with your finger any which way to your heart's content. Each feature is represented by a unique image, labeled with an icon to show whether it is an image, video, article or activity. Tapping on the image takes you to the feature.
For a more organized view, a list mode presents separate menus of images, videos and articles (including activity articles).
You can share the images and short videos with your class using a digital projector and a high-definition multimedia interface adapter for the iPad.
Space Place Prime is available free in the Apple App Store. See iTunes preview at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/space-place-prime/id543935008?mt=8.
New Resource for Space Place en Espanol
This year has been an amazing one for daytime sky watchers. On May 20, we had a solar eclipse, partial or annular, depending on your viewing location. And on June 5 (or 6), a very rare Venus transit occurred, which is similar to an eclipse. Both of these events and the basic concept of eclipses are explained in a new "Explore" page in both English and Spanish on The Space Place. Check it out at http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/sp/venus-transit/.
Spotlight on Mars
"Let's go to Mars!" The Mars adventure game gives kids the task of picking items that would be useful to take on a long trip to Mars. The player's game success depends on the usefulness and practicality of the items chosen. For example, dumb-bells wouldn't be very useful for exercising in a weightless environment. And potato chips take up too much space. But notepaper and some crayons might come in handy, as would a first-aid kit. Blast off at http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/mars-adventure/.
For the Classroom
What's the difference between a comet and an asteroid? Most of us know that a comet has a tail and maybe a certain level of predictability. But what, fundamentally, distinguishes one from the other? Or is there a fuzzy area where either term could apply? Our new "Comets vs. Asteroids" four-page flyer tells all with pictures, easy explanations, fun facts and even a word search puzzle. Download and print it at http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/posters/#asteroids.
For out-of-school time
Make Space Place t-shirts. Print our beautiful Space Place art on iron-on transfer paper you can buy at a crafts store. Iron the transfer onto any t-shirt, old or new. You can also iron a colorful solar system transfer graphic onto the back of the shirt to help students (either the ones wearing the shirt or the ones looking at their backs) learn the names of the planets.
Alternatively, Lands' End(R) has created an embroidered Space Place insignia, which you can order on any Lands' End(R) shirt, hat, bag or other product. Either way, go to http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/t-shirt/ to get started.
Sept. 15: Respect for the Aged Day in Japan
(Why don't we have such a holiday in the U.S.?) A fun way to observe this day is to play the "How Old Do I Look?" game. Go to http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/whats-older/.
Sept. 16: Collect Rocks Day
You never know when the rock you pick up might have fallen from Mars or another extraterrestrial locale. See what rock collecting did for one NASA scientist by watching a Space Place Live episode at http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/space-place-live/#burnett.
Sept. 23, 1846: Johan G. Galle Discovered Neptune
This smallest of the gas giants would still hold 60 Earths! Find out more about Neptune and all the other planets by reading the interactive or .pdf storybook, "The First Annual Planet Awards!" It's at http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/story-planet-awards/.
October: Energy Awareness Month
The "Power Up!" game on our sister website, NASA's Climate Kids, will help students become more aware of renewable energy sources. Go to http://climate.nasa.gov/kids/powerupcleanly/.
Oct. 13: Train Your Brain Day
Flex your memory muscles by playing "Spitzer Concentration." Match space images from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Go to http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/spitzer-concentration/.
Oct. 21: Orionids Meteor Shower Peaks
Find out all about meteor showers and the best way to watch them at http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/meteor-shower/.
The Space Place monthly wall calendar for this school year is available to print at http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/calendar/. Also, back issues of this newsletter are available, with timeless suggestions on using The Space Place to enrich classroom and out-of-school experiences for students. Check them out at http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/educator-newsletter/.
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