Does the advent of summer fill you with utter dread?
Would you gladly take twice the heat, three times the humidity and four times the mosquitoes if only the kids were back in school?
There’s more on the internet than online gaming and YouTube. There’s actually educational stuff out there. And what’s even more amazing — educational stuff that’s actually — dare we say it? Fun!
Now’s the time for you to follow the link to http://discovery.nasa.gov and surf through the countless activities listed, all of which have a solid science background and are age appropriate for many different levels. Some require adult supervision (and come on, you could use a little more space-related education yourself — admit it!), and some don’t. Some require you merely to get the ball rolling and let the kids finish.
If you’ve already done the unthinkable and volunteered for a summer camp and are already losing sleep over how to survive it, this website will solve all your problems.
Let’s check it out together.
For the budding Broadway star there is the Space School Musical — and then there are dozens of activities building on it. You can sing along, get to know the characters better, and just accidentally learn a bunch of clandestine science facts as you belt out the tunes.
The artist in your home will find some amazing guides and activities in a section called Art and the Cosmic Connection. Most people can’t put art and science together in one sentence, but this area on the website draws up parallels between fantasy artwork and hard science by focusing on elements of two- and three-dimensional art, such as lines, colors, hues and textures. Much of what scientists get in raw data is in the form of photographs. How do they know what’s what, when they look at these images? A basic knowledge of interpreting these artistic elements will lead to focused understanding of visual clues. The great thing is that you don’t need to know how to draw realistically — the art activities concentrate on free exploration of artistic elements.
And of course there is also a section for those kids who want to dig a little deeper — links to more detailed websites are conveniently included.
If your kids are into building stuff, there are paper models for oodles of spacecraft that you can print out and assemble. They will look awesome hanging from the bedroom ceiling later. And if the model spacecraft now includes an ice cream shop and a teddy bear docking station — well, so much the better.
The bottom line is — you don’t have to go down this road alone. There’s so much out there already, it will take several childhoods to work through it all. We’ve looked at the fabulous Space Place before at http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/ (and yes, it’s always a good time to re-visit!), and now you have another one-stop-shopping site to help your kids do something useful and educational that surprisingly enough doesn’t feel like school at all.
Beate Czogalla is the Professor of Theater Design in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Georgia College & State University. She has had a lifelong interest in space exploration and has been a Solar System Ambassador for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/ NASA for many years. She can be reached at email@example.com