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Purdue Space Day 2016 Activities

Check out the activities we have for kids from 3rd to 8th grade!

Grades 3 and 4


You are part of a crew of astronauts whose vehicle came back to Earth, but had to make an emergency landing not at your designated landing site. You need to use the stars to find your way back to a safe base. Design your own star finder, build it, and navigate you and your crew mates back to safety! Time is of the essence! Students will learn the basic principles of astronomy by observing the night sky.

Rover Landing

Incoming! Rover Landing imminent! NASA’s rover team has tasked you and your peers with landing the 2020 Rover on Mars. Choose your materials and design a lander that will protect a water balloon or your “ballononaut” from a serious fall! Paper, tape, straws, what will be the best combination and structure to protect your “ballononaut”? Students will learn about the principles of design and be exposed to rover landings in this interactive, fast paced activity.

Stomp Rockets

Lift Off in 5…4…3…2….1…Stomp! Design, build, and launch your own rocket by stomping or jumping on a pre-made launcher. Work with others to design your own rocket out of construction paper and other materials in a focused, build session. Then take your rocket out into the sunshine and watch it soar into the sky! Want it to go higher? Take some time to perfect your design, make necessary changes, and re launch. If the rocket is well-designed and constructed, flights of more than 100 feet are possible! Students will be introduced to basic rocket anatomy through an engaging and interactive rocket launch activity.

Grades 5 and 6

Rocket Materials: Materials Engineering

Space exploration isn't just about big engines and explosions! The materials that allow these engines to function and take us to new heights are extremely important as well. Learn about the materials of engineering and structures used for space exploration from Purdue material science engineering students. See first-hand how materials play a role in NASA missions through interactive and unique activities! Students will learn about the fundamentals of materials and experience engaging demonstrations.

Journey to Mars

Congratulations! You are chosen to become one of the few individuals to plan the first Mission to Mars, alongside your trusted team members. Before you begin your 35 million mile journey to the Red Planet, your team must plan your mission and decide your roles. How will your position in your team affect the ability and impact you have on mission success? How will the decisions you make on Earth, affect how your team lives on Mars? Work through the mission planning process and your "Journey to Mars" in this exciting activity hosted by the Purdue University Planetary Society! Students will work through a Mars Mission Planning process that highlights the importance of teamwork and collective contributions in STEM.

Foam Rockets

Reusable rockets very well may be future! Making rockets less expensive and more efficient will open the pathway to space and beyond! See this principle first hand for yourself as you design and launch a rocket in your two hands. After your first launch, consider how small design changes to your rocket can increase how far it goes. How might your rocket's launch inclination affect its trajectory? Explore all these areas in an immersive, interesting, and fun foam rocket activity!

Grades 7 and 8

Navigating Your Curiosity & Solar Sails: Purdue EPICS

You are part of an engineering team at NASA’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) in Los Angeles. The Curiosity Rover currently exploring Mars has been damaged and now requires manual control from your team on Earth. How will you construct a system that will allow you to operate the rover correctly, nearly 225 million kilometers away on Earth? How will you navigate the rover over the harsh terrain of Mars to allow for research to continue while the rover repairs itself? Solve these challenges and experience a taste of what NASA engineers do everyday! Students will learn about the exploration of Mars with rovers and will remotely pilot their own rover across a large Mars map while trying to reach numerous objectives.

Ever heard of Solar Sails? They very well might be the future of propulsion for space fairing vehicles! Ever tried to build your own? Learn more about solar sails, and build your own, and learn to think on your feet in one of our most engaging activities of the year lead by our Purdue EPICS team.

For more information about EPICS, visit the EPICS web site.

Engine Design

Your engineering team at SpaceX is underway on their new rocket design when there’s an emergency. Critical designs and data have been stolen! But your astronauts need your engineering support ASAP for their next launch. Can your team effectively communicate and replicate the engine? Can your team iterate the design and improve it within time constraints? Learn the importance of communication and teamwork as students try to replicate a design using Legos in this fast paced, timely activity!

Water Rockets

What if someone told you that you could launch a rocket with air, would you believe them? How about one with water? When we think about rockets, we think about things like the space shuttle. It burns a huge amount of rocket fuel that fills the area with smoke. This obviously is more powerful than air or water powered rockets, but what makes the rocket move? It’s not the fuel, it’s the physics! Today, each student will build their own rocket that uses pressurized air and water to propel it through flight. After the build session, the students will test their rocket by launching them outdoors.