Pre-College Programs
SPARK - Science for Middle School

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Exploring the Planets and Moons of our Solar System - Junior SPARK

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

The planets and moons of our solar system hold untold mysteries. New secrets about the solar system are constantly being uncovered by NASA spacecraft, from Curiosity on Mars to New Horizons at Pluto. Come learn what NASA missions have discovered about our incredible solar system and learn how to plan a mission of your own to your favorite place in space.

Have you ever looked up at the night sky and wondered how the Moon got there? Why did we send humans to the Moon and what did they discover there? What does Pluto look like? What is a Dwarf Planet? Why do we think Mars might have extraterrestrial life and what form might this life have? How do spacecraft take measurements of planets? If you are curious about any of these questions, then this is the course for you! Throughout the week, we will explore the planets and look at features observed on the surface (like volcanoes and impact craters) and figure out what that tells us about the formation and evolution of the solar system. As the week progresses we will learn about the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, as well as dwarf planets like Pluto and Ceres. Did you know Jupiter's moon Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system? Or, that we believe there to be an ocean below the surface of Europa? What could this mean about the possibility of life there? During the course you will have the opportunity to visit an 3D virtual-reality room where you “walk on Mars”. You will also develop your own mission to another planet and determine what science questions you wish to answer with your mission.

Students will develop a basic understanding of the different terrestrial planets in our Solar System and the major questions under investigation by planetary scientists around the globe. They will be able to look at an image of a planetary surface and identify the major processes active in the image as well as the particular planet imaged. In addition, students will be able to develop their own scientific questions and design a project to answer those questions.

There are no prerequisites for this course. All the information you need to complete and understand the course will be presented to you. Come one, come all.

*This Junior SPARK course is designed for students, 12 years and older, who are currently in the 6th and 7th grades (entering 7th and 8th grades Fall 2015). Older students are encouraged to register for our Senior SPARK courses.