For our home learning unit, we are working our way through the STEAM concepts that start with J. This has been a little more challenging and time intensive than our other units. But, the activities have been very interesting and hands-on. Our Science in Action – J is for Jupiter experience has been eye opening to the vastness of space and the amazing things found there.
This unit of study focused on introducing the children to some of the amazing, funny, or different things about Jupiter. We completed three activities for this unit – modeling the movements of Jupiter, relative to the Earth and Sun; creating a scale model of Jupiter, compared to the Earth; and painting the model, while discussing the atmosphere on Jupiter, again compared to the Earth.
Activity One: Modeling Jupiter’s Movements
Objective: To introduce the children to the movements of Jupiter within the solar system as they relate to the Earth and Sun.
Three children (at least)
Notes about Jupiter, available here
First make sure the area is clear where the children will be modeling the bodies from the solar system.
Talk to the children about how long it takes Jupiter to orbit the sun – about 12 Earth years.
Next, select one child to be the Sun, one child to be the Earth, and one child to be Jupiter.
Have the child playing the sun stand in the middle of the clear area. Explain that for our model the Sun will just stand in place.
Next, place the child representing the Earth a little more than an arms distance from the “Sun”. Have that child start walking around the “Sun” in an orbit.
Now, while the “Earth” is still orbiting the “Sun” explain to the child representing “Jupiter” that the “Earth” needs to go around the “Sun” 12 times before “Jupiter” finishes going around the “Sun” once. Place Jupiter about three times as far away from the “Sun” as the “Earth” was placed. Have “Jupiter” start walking around the “Sun” while the instructor counts the number of time’s the “Earth” has orbited the “Sun”. We divided the orbit into quarters – so the “Earth” needed to complete three revolutions while “Jupiter” moved through 1/3 of its orbit.
Let every child have an opportunity to be the Sun, the Earth, and Jupiter.
This activity really helped the children understand, more concretely, what a year looked like on Jupiter. All my children really enjoyed playing the different roles. It was fun to watch them as they tried to figure out how to move around each other. My Kindergartener, after his time as Jupiter, said, “Wow, Jupiter moves really slowly.”
Activity Two: Creating a scale model of Jupiter and the Earth
Objective: To show the children the size, relative to the Earth, of Jupiter.
One punch ball, blown up until it is 55.5 inches in circumference. Blow the punch ball up very carefully – the circumference required stretches the rubber to its limits. Be sure to blow the punch ball up away from other people’s faces, and slowly. Especially when nearing the circumference requirement.
One small balloon, blown up until it is 9.25 inches in circumference. This balloon will only be about three inches in diameter – about the size of a fist.
Newspaper or tissue paper
Flour and water mixture to make paper mache paste.
Bowls or cups to stand the balloon/punch ball in while working with the model.
First, begin by sharing some of the wonderful and amazing facts about Jupiter found on the Jupiter notes page. Talk about how big Jupiter is when compared to the Earth, the number of moons and rings it has, its average temperature, and other fun facts.
Next, help the children dip the newspaper or tissue paper into the flour goo and begin to paper mache Jupiter. After three or so layers have been added to Jupiter – it’s time to start on the Earth.
Let the paper mache dry – this may take a day or two depending on the humidity.
Once the paper mache is dry, it is time to start on the next activity.
Activity Three: Painting Jupiter and the Earth
Objective: to introduce children to the appearance and composition of Jupiter’s atmosphere.
White, brown, red, orange, blue, green, and cream craft paint
Dried paper mache models of Jupiter and the Earth
Good picture of Jupiter to paint from.
Use this activity to talk about what the atmosphere of Jupiter is like. Be sure to mention the Giant Red Spot that is a storm three Earths in length that has been raging on Jupiter for more than 350 years. Talk about how the atmosphere of Jupiter consists of bands of clouds made of different elements.
Then, begin painting by painting a base cream coat. After that’s dry, have the kids start painting the bands on Jupiter.
After Jupiter is finished, it’s time to start on the Earth.
Paint the earth blue first, then paint in the green and brown for the continents. Remember to leave the poles white to show the ice caps.
These activities took a little time to complete, but they were a great way to introduce Jupiter with all it’s amazing facts and facets. My kids enjoyed each part of this exploration. They all really liked being the planet and orbiting the “Sun”. Also, the dimensions of the scale model Jupiter compared to the Earth was something that just amazed my Kindergartner. These activities were a fun way to bring the wonder of space into our learning unit.