Math-related Activities

Math-related Activities

Classroom Activities

Cartoon weather wizard

Write the Book on Weather Metrics

Introduces weather terminology. Invites students to investigate how we measure the weather and other characteristics of the atmosphere and create their own “Book of Weather Metrics.”

Disciplines: Math, science, technology, art

Activity: Individual creative classroom and homework assignment.

Cartoon rocket to Mars

Packing for a L-o-o-o-ng Trip to Mars

Decide what you will need to take on a 2-1/2 year journey to Mars. Then plan how to fit every- thing into a 1-cubic-meter box, using only a measuring tape, pencil and paper, and math.

Disciplines: Math, space science

Activity: Group (cooperation, compromise), technical drawing, discussion

Jason spacecraft mapping Earth's oceans

Mapping the Watery Hills and Dales

Learn how the Global Positioning System satellites work. Find out how the Topex and Jason-1 satellites use GPS data in making very precise topological maps of the oceans.

Disciplines: Earth science, geometry, space technology

Activity: Entire class, indoor, game-type demonstration

Golf balls sit inside box

Be Glad You're Not a Cyclops!

What is stereoscopic vision and why do we need it?

Disciplines: Biology, math

Activity: Pairs (in turn within large group), hands-on experiment, indoor

Drawing of Keck Telescopes upon a mountain

De-twinkling the Stars

How do astronomers remove the distortion in starlight caused by Earth's atmosphere?

Disciplines: Physics, math, Earth science, astronomy

Activity: Large group, kinesthetic, outdoor

Kids drawing planets' orbits on concrete outside

Make a Scale Model of the Solar System

Drawing a scale model of the orbits of the planets and some short-period comets.

Disciplines: Math, physics, astronomy

Activity: Individual and large group, hands on, indoor and outdoor. Adaptable to grades 9-12.

Deep Space 1 spacecraft in space

You've Got Algo-rhythm!

How do space scientists program a computer to be smart enough to make up its own mind?

Disciplines: Math, language arts, visual arts

Activity: Small groups (3-5), kinesthetic, hands-on, indoor

On-line Activities and Amazing Facts

Voyager image of Saturn What is the Secret Code Used by the Voyager Spacecraft?

Learn the “secret code” spacecraft use to send images back from space. Introduces the “language” of computers and spacecraft. Binary and hexadecimal notation explained simply and clearly. Fun fact, with lots of great pictures of the planets.

Cartoon hand-held game

What Batteries Will Last into Your Old Age?

Find out how long the special batteries being tried in space would last if you could use them in your Gameboy. Enter your age now, the number of hours you play each day, then hit the calculate button to find out how old you will be before you would have to put in new batteries.

Super Space Place Girl with DSN antenna

How Are Space Engineers Way Wilier Than Superheroes?

Learn about the super “hearing” of the huge antennas used to receive the tiny signals from far away spacecraft. Get a sense of tiny fractions and decimals, such as 1 thousandth and 1 millionth.

Cartoon of topo map activity

Make a Topographical Map

Build your own mountain of clay or Play-Doh, then make a topo map of it. Teaches how topo maps are made and how to read them. Explains how radar is used from space to make topo maps of Earth.

Boy standing beside tiny building

Shrink a Building Three Ways

See how a “skyscraper's worth” of information can be shrunk to a tiny handful without losing the important stuff. Interactive multimedia demonstration shows three different ways (algorithms) to compress data gathered by a spacecraft before sending it back to Earth.

Cartoon of rocket leaving Earth orbit

Launch a Rocket from a Spinning Planet

Playground demonstration (using a merry-go-round) of angular momentum and why rockets are launched in a certain direction and at a certain time to take advantage of Earth's rotational velocity. Includes explanation, with animated graphics.

Cartoon spacecraft

How Far Can a spacecraft Fly in One School Year?

(Sidebar of this page). How big a ball of yarn would you need in order to reach from right here to the Deep Space 1 spacecraft 188 million kilometers from Earth?

Cartoon car

Vec-->Touring

By entering the required coordinates of a grid to achieve a particular route (one vector at a time), players drive their little car as fast as they can to arrive in time to see the launch of a new spacecraft. Easy, medium, and hard levels to choose from. Players learn to add and subtract vectors without even knowing that is what they are doing.

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