Whether your little one has a spacey science project to finish for school or simply can't get enough of learning about astronauts, a space station project is an entertaining and educational activity to try at home. From researching space stations, how they work and the history of these out-of-this-world inventions to actually creating a model, your young student can get hands-on and delve into all things outer space.
Before beginning a project that relates to science, it is best to start with research. This helps your child better understand how the space station came to be and its uses. Additionally, finding photos of the actual structure will prove helpful when making an accurate model. Look up the utmost outer space authority, NASA, online and visit its "International Space Station" page. This site provides information on research and technology, building and assembly, facts and figures, living and working and expeditions along with a variety of interior and exterior photos. If you are looking for a more international viewpoint, try the European Space Agency kids website page on the space station.
From simple cardboard box models for little learners to try to more elaborate creations for older students, the specific materials necessary are dependent on your child's age, model building skills and assigned details. One Earth-friendly way to go is to choose reused plastic items, such as yogurt containers and milk cartons, for the basic structure. Your child may also need paper or cardboard products to build solar panels and accent elements. Other materials necessary for decoration and assembly include paints, markers, craft sticks, glue and tape. For a special touch, try a thin modeling clay or modeling compound for an entire structure cover.
Space Station Model
Although there are many ways to build a space station model, it is easiest to start by creating different pieces to join together later. Create the biggest component of the station, a 16-paneled solar truss, by cutting rectangle shapes from cardboard. Cover the rectangles with foil for a realistic look and attach them to craft sticks with glue to make a singular piece. Make the central module, or the astronauts' living and working area, out of a cylinder-shaped plastic container or piece of thick paper taped into a tube shape. Attach the truss and module together with tape or glue. Cover the module with either white paint or white modeling compound and add decorative touches with markers or colored tempera.
Make Your Own
Just because the international space community has made the most famous station doesn't mean your child can't create his own version. Help him get imaginative, use what he learned about the station and build his own spaced-out place. Provide him with a variety of different types of materials to build with such as containers, cardboard tubes, paper and more. Encourage your budding space engineer to draft his own design and combine different elements of the real station with his own ideas to make a new model. For example, he can make a multi-modular station by taping a small soda bottle horizontally to the end of a large yogurt container or make a mini-station from a lunch-sized milk carton and craft sticks.
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