There are two videos to choose from to learn about satellites.
The first one is better for younger kids, the second one will appeal to older kids. Feel free to watch one, or both!
Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to test your understanding by taking the quiz!
High school students or any student who wants to dig deeper, continue your study with one of the advanced learning projects located at the end of this learning block!
Learn about the 3 different functions of satellites
Satellites have three main functions: weather, communication, and exploration. Watch the video on each type of satellite. Think about how these satellites have changed the way we live.
How do you benefit from satellites? Do you think you can live without any of these types of satellites? Which type do you think is most important?
Now choose an Activity
Make a Paper Satellite
Watch this video to see how a paper satellite is made. Give it a try on your own.
You will need:
- 20cm x 20cm square piece of paper
Make a Satellite Model
The instruction and examples below are from NASA’s Space Place: Build Your Own Spacecraft project. You can visit the link to find more examples.
In this project, you are going to use some recycled material, objects around your house, or even food to make your very own satellite model.
Every satellite has a couple of basic things.
- Container: Your satellite needs some sort of container to hold all of the gizmos together and keep its instruments safe.
- Power source: You will need something to give your satellite electricity so that it can run all of its high-tech gizmos. Solar panels or fancy batteries are two options.
- Scientific instruments: This is why you launched your satellite in the first place! Instruments can take pictures of far away galaxies or planets right here in our Solar System, measure chemicals in Earth’s atmosphere, or keep a close eye on our Sun’s activity. It’s your decision!
- Communication device: You will need some way to communicate with Earth. Antennas (shaped like dishes or poles and rods) are a good way to do this.
- Orientation finder: Make sure you have something that lets your satellite know where it’s pointed and which way is ‘up.’ Something that looks at the stars (a star tracker) or the sun (a sun tracker) would work.
Here’s the plan:
The idea is to make up your own satellite using whatever (safe) materials you feel like using. The only requirement is that it has the five basic things mentioned above.
Here are some ideas for what to use. They are just suggestions. Be creative and find new ways to build your satellite! You can also make your satellite edible, if you so desire!
- rice crispy treats
- sugar wafers
- graham crackers
- gummy worms/candy
- licorice twists
- toothpicks (don’t eat these, just use them to keep the food together!)
- juice boxes or other small boxes
- construction paper
- CDs or DVDs
- shiny paper
- rubber bands
- plastic cups and bowls
- popsicle sticks
- screws, nuts, bolts, etc.
- Elmer’s glue
Here are some examples to get you started:
Space Junk Project
Satellites improve our lives in many ways, but there is one problem: space junk, or space debris.
First: Learn what space debris is and why it is a problem by watching the first video.
Second: Listen to this goofy podcast episode and learn about a real life solution to the many satelites left in space. You may choose to read along to the transcript below or download and print a coloring page to color while you listen.
Last: Use your imagination to think of another solution to the space junk problem. Share your thoughts by drawing a picture, writing a story, explaining what your are thinking on video, or creating a prototype or model of your solution using items found around the house. Add them to your journal or upload them to your portfolio.
Satellite Coloring Page 1
Satellite Coloring Page 2
Transcript of Astronauts, Clean Up Your Outer Space Podcast
Click on this link to go to the full transcript of the podcast for you to read.
Books About Satellites
Click on a book to buy it from Amazon. Or, you can ask for them at your local library.
Rockets and Spaceships Read Aloud
Choose at least one.
Help Nasa detect satellite image locations on earth
Astronauts take images of the earth from satellites for many reasons. Images are much more useful if we know exactly which spot on the planet they show and NASA needs your help detecting exact locations.
Visit NASA’s Imagery Detective Website to learn how to do it and earn your detective badge.
Early Satellites Project
Sputnik made history as the first artificial satellite in space in 1957, starting the space race. Research an early satellite of your choice. The links below are good places to start.
Sputnik and the Dawn of the Space Age is a compilation of documents, audio, and other resources to dive deeper into learning about the first satellite. Laika is the first living being to experience orbit on Sputnik 2.
Explorer 1 is a good place to go to learn about the first American satellite. The video below is the launch of Explorer 1.
As you watch and research these satellites, think about how it must have been for the people living through it. You might consider the perspective of a scientist working in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a child watching at home, Laika herself, or some other point of view. Choose a way to express this point of view as if it was your own.
Write a Journal Entry or Letter
Write a letter or a journal entry about the experience of one these monumental launches.
- Where you are
- What is happening around you
- What is happening to you
- What you are thinking about
- How you feel
- Your plans for what happens next
Upload your journal entry or letter to your portfolio.
Write a poem, song, or rap
Write a poem, song, or rap about the event or experience of a satellite launch. Poems and songs often capture the experience or emotion of a moment. Think about how you can connect to the human element of the story in writing your poem.
- The thoughts and feelings tied to an experience
- The best kind of poem to express this
- If you’re writing a song, consider the type of music you choose to add to the purpose of the poem
- If you’re writing a rap, consider how the flow and cadence of the words and the syllabic percussion can add emphasis and connect the listener to the intent of poem
Upload it to your portfolio as a written piece, or record it as video.