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Celebrate the History of Space Flight

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Screenshot from First Orbit (the movie), created by FirstOrbit.org.

Today marks the 50 year anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's 108-minute, first human in space, orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961. It's a big day in the history of space exploration and flight!

To join in the celebration, make a bit of "space" in your day for some space history!

  • Make contact.

    Students (or classes) interested in space studies can try and make contact with astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). Our HAMing It Up with the Astronauts* project can help get them started.

  • Explore liftoff.
    Students can learn more about the power behind liftoff when they use an online NASA simulator to design an ion engine, part of a propulsion system which is replacing the standard chemical propulsion system.


  • Think big.

    Students can explore a range of astro-related science projects in the Science Buddies Project Ideas Directory.


  • Look ahead.

    Explore a space- and astronomy-related careers, including Aerospace Engineer and Astronomer.


  • Tune in.

    Don't miss First Orbit, a free hour-and-a-half YouTube video that weaves together original footage and new footage from the ISS to recreate, in real time, that first flight. Class popcorn party anyone?

Science Buddies Science Activities

Science Buddies Summer Science Roundup


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School and family science weekly spotlight: make a solar oven from household and recycled materials.

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With different kinds of dried beans, plastic cups, and water, kids can model rocks and observe the way different sized particles in rocks affect how much water a rock can hold.

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Students can experiment with the engineering design process by trying to improve the durability of a simple handheld device.

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School and family science weekly spotlight: melting ice chemistry.

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For families living in drought conditions, careful monitoring of water usage is especially important. With hands-on science and engineering projects, students can investigate water-saving strategies and science and engineering related to water conservation. Above: The effect of drought can be...

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City parklets provide interesting challenges for engineers, designers, and planners. With software from Autodesk and a fun Digital STEAM Workshop challenge, students can design their own parklets and see what is involved in reimagining a few parking spots as a social space.



Your Science!
What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!



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