COSAM News Articles 2023 June STEM Outreach: Science Matters camp engages students to learn about the moon and beyond

STEM Outreach: Science Matters camp engages students to learn about the moon and beyond

Published: 06/13/2023

By: Maria Gebhardt

Students in Science Matters, a summer enrichment camp held at Auburn University and hosted by the STEM Outreach Center in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, learn about exciting STEM topics, and engage in hands-on activities all summer long. During the week of June 5 – 9, over 80 students in grades one to six  engaged in fun-filled space-themed field trips, activities and guest speakers.

“We are able to teach these students all science, all day,” said Valerie Bennett, a teacher from Dean Road Elementary School. “This week they are learning about the moon, stars, planets and constellations.”

Activities this week for one group included making personalized flags for their own moon landings, re-creating the surface of the moon, making marshmallow constellations, designing constellations out of paper to display through a flashlight, creating astronaut-like gloves and having a lot of fun. Students also visited an aerodynamics laboratory on campus and viewed the sun through solar-safe telescopes while learning about its hot spots and surface.

“Most of these students had never seen footage of the actual lunar landing from July 20, 1969,” Bennett said. “So, we all watched it together and then they had an opportunity to recreate their version through art. They made astronaut footprints in the moon and designed their very own flags.”

“We had the chance to learn about the texture of the moon,” Bennett said. “We painted with aluminum foil to create the craters we saw on the moon.”

The participants then discussed constellations.

“We will also recreate constellations where students will punch out the stars and then use a flashlight to display them as a homemade planetarium,” she said. “They also got to make constellations out of marshmallows.”

The students were inspired to learn how astronauts could grasp objects on the moon.

“I wanted students to be able to see what it would be like to wear the gloves that astronauts wear during a space mission, so we designed these gloves,” Bennett said. “When you pull the strings, the fingers move.”

Students also talked with a retired NASA Astronaut, Colonel James Voss, a 1972 graduate of Auburn University. Voss answered their questions about astronaut attire, eating in space and reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. He shared visions of the beauty of the Earth.

These young scientists had a wonderful chance to learn about celestial objects and were inspired to continue to look up to the sky and share the knowledge they learned in Science Matters.  

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