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By Amelia Chapman
This summer’s 50th anniversary of humans first setting foot on the Moon is a celebration of exploration, teamwork, innovation, imagination, STEM, and discovery—topics embraced by children’s museums every day. Use NASA’s free resources to join in the anniversary excitement and build awareness of your year-round opportunities!
Be Mission Control
Establish your museum as a place the community can gather to celebrate the anniversary, and learn for the future. Invite local media to do their anniversary stories from your galleries or events, offer to do on-air science demos like making craters, and share experiments people can try at home. Be sure to submit your events to NASA’s anniversary map and calendar!
Looking for some easy ways to add “space” to your galleries? Hang up NASA posters; set a screen to show beautiful ViewSpace interactives and videos; turn your maker space into a rover design center; create a scale model of our Solar System; or put a 3D printer to work. You can also use an empty wall to display adults’ memories of the Moon landing and kids’ visions for future exploration—and let them know about this art contest (to enter, register by June 1 and submit artwork by June 15)!
Engage the Whole Crew
Team up with a local history department to host an oral history day where kids interview relatives about their Moon landing memories. Involve the whole community and create a time capsule to open fifty years in the future. Use the Night Sky Network to connect with local astronomy clubs that can bring telescopes, hands-on demos and enthusiastic astronomers to your site. Invite a Solar System Ambassador to share the latest science and discoveries of NASA’s missions.
Celebrate teamwork with all-ages activities like this Trip to Mars game that gives everyone a job to do. Challenge your summer campers to build a space colony or put on a Space School Musical. Point families to NASA Space Place, a great place for them to keep learning together.
Launch a Celebration
Have a Moon-filled day of fun! Hide and Seek Moon is great for young learners; after learning about why the Moon seems to change shape, families can work together to make a Moon phases calendar and calculator. Check out this list of more lunar fun from STAR_Net and pre-k astronomy activities from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Plan ahead for next time and learn how to borrow actual lunar and meteorite samples from NASA for hands-on teaching.
Saturday, July 20 is the day of the landing, but that’s not the only event or day to celebrate! On July 16, be part of the Global Rocket Launch Challenge with rocket activities for all ages. Or, celebrate the crew’s safe return to our home planet on July 24 with activities such as making observations that help scientists study the Earth.
Use the Momentum!
The Apollo anniversaries aren’t just a chance to look back. NASA’s upcoming Moon to Mars program will have humans returning to the Moon as a gateway forward to Mars. Celebrate the Red Planet by printing out some coloring sheets and panoramic images, or screening these fun Mars in a Minute videos.
Make plans for October’s International Observe the Moon Night and April 22, 2020 – the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! After all, it’s no mere coincidence Earth Day began during the Apollo missions—they let us see our home planet in a new way. Print out some Apollo-Earth Day posters here.
Finally, become part of NASA’s Museum Alliance, a community of practice providing professional development and NASA resources to informal educators who want to use the excitement of space exploration and scientific discovery to inspire new generations.
Amelia Chapman is an education program specialist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
This August holds an exciting surprise for children (and most adults!) across America: a total solar eclipse! August 21st will mark the first total solar eclipse to occur all across the continental United States since 1918.
Leading up to and during the eclipse, children’s museums across the country are planning programs to excite young visitors’ imaginations and help them learn about science and astronomy.
Here are a few ways ACM member museums plan to help visitors get the most out of eclipse day.
Is your museum in “the path of totality”? Find out with this interactive map from NASA. If the answer is no, that’s okay! Your location will likely still experience a partial eclipse. Here’s how children’s museums outside the path are celebrating:
In case you need a little inspiration, here are a few activities children’s museums across the country are planning:
How is your museum celebrating the 2017 total solar eclipse?
Susannah Brister is Office Manager at the Associations of Children’s Museums (ACM). Follow ACM on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.