Exploring the Solar System: A History with 22 Activities

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Winner of the 2009 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Children’s Literature Award. How do we know that Mars is covered in rusty dust, that a day on Venus lasts longer than its year, and that Neptune has 13 moons? Human exploration! Exploring the Solar System relates the rich history of space exploration using telescopes, satellites, probes, landers, and human missions. This book has been updated to include the recent discovery of Eris, which, along with Pluto, has been newly classified as a...
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Exploring the Solar System: A History with 22 Activities

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Overview

Winner of the 2009 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Children’s Literature Award. How do we know that Mars is covered in rusty dust, that a day on Venus lasts longer than its year, and that Neptune has 13 moons? Human exploration! Exploring the Solar System relates the rich history of space exploration using telescopes, satellites, probes, landers, and human missions. This book has been updated to include the recent discovery of Eris, which, along with Pluto, has been newly classified as a "dwarf planet" by the International Astronomical Union. In addition to history, this book contains 22 hands-on projects to explore the planets and other celestial bodies from right here on earth. Exploring the Solar System also includes biographies of 20 space pioneers, details of specific missions, a time line, and a 20-page Field Guide to the Solar System with detailed scientific data on each of our celestial neighbors and the historic missions to visit them.

Download the free teaching guide.

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Editorial Reviews

ToyTips.com
Takes its readers on a journey through the exploration of the Solar System by interweaving text with easily replicated hands-on activities.
Science Books & Films
A refreshing approach . . . appropriate for students over a range of ages.
Science Books & Films
[The author] quickly manages to pique the interest of the reader . . . well described.
Children's Literature - Sally J. K. Davies
This is an excellent resource for students exploring the science and history of our solar system. It is carefully researched and well planned out, with hands-on activities to complement the information in the main text. Even the contents page of this book has been lovingly and beautifully designed. In the middle of the page, the word "Contents" overlaps a small yellow circle, which looks like a bright sun. A pencil thin, light blue line forms an ellipse around this yellow ball to mimic the path of a planet around the sun. Every chapter is listed in sequence along this pathway, highlighted by a thin blue circle similar to a planet. Each chapter in the book has several hands-on activities designed for kids, all using common household items. Each activity is clearly described in a partial or full page box that is highlighted by a bright blue background. The first chapter talks about the history of the early astronomers and their discoveries. The hands-on activities for this chapter include a star gazing activity, a way to draw the elliptical orbits of the planets, an activity for building a telescope, and one for making a CD spectroscope. Chapter two explores the time period from 1900s through to the 1950s. Designing and building a homemade rocket, "walking" to Pluto, and instructions about how to successfully look for satellites in the sky are the activities for this chapter. Chapter three deals with the 1960s Russian and American race for the moon. The activities in this chapter include making a map of the moon, working like an astronaut, and a messy but fun project to make "Kitchen Craters." Chapter four concerns the 1970s and the planetary probes. "Parachuting Eggs," "Planetary WarmUp," and "Is it Organic?" are the three activities for this chapter. The following chapter about the 1980s discusses the outer planets. Learning binary code, making a greeting for another planet's life form using symbols, and "Kitchen Comet Nucleus" are the activities for this chapter. Chapter six focuses on the 1990s with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Mars Rover. An activity about the metric system is featured in this chapter. The next chapter highlights the 2000s. The activities are "Catch and Count a Falling Star," "Put Together a Probe," and "Sea Mars in 3-D." Throughout the book, important scientists and astronomers are featured in light blue boxes, with a brief biography of each individual and their contribution to science. The book is filled with great photographs and diagrams. Occasionally, a yellow box appears within the text, explaining how certain things work or giving a detailed definition. Gravitational assist, space probes, rocket anatomy, and the possibility of a tenth planet are some of the topics covered in these yellow boxes. The back matter contains a highly detailed "Field Guide to the Solar System," a glossary, an index, a bibliography, and a nice resource section with many different web sites to explore. At the beginning of the book, there is a time line of important events, from prehistory through to the 2006-scheduled launch of New Horizons, the first spacecraft to visit Pluto. Mary Kay Carson has also written The Underground Railway for Kids, Weather Projects for Young Scientists, and The Wright Brothers for Kids.
KLIATT
Carson's activity book introduces young YAs to the wonders and complexities of spectroscopy and planetary probes. Pairing simple experiments with photos, charts, and descriptions of extraterrestrial exploration, the text encourages the curious to extend knowledge with more reading, more research. Spectacular photos expose the wonders of ancient volcanoes, launch preparations, and the vehicles that carry cameras and testing equipment into deep space. Candid shots of male and female astrophysicists and space engineers suggest careers for readers interested in geology and space travel. Contributing to the book's value as a classroom or home-schooling tool are a 24-page guide to the solar system, a three-page glossary, and online resources for students, teachers and parents. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2006, Chicago Review Press, 168p. illus. bibliog. index., Ages 12 to 15.
—Mary Ellen Snodgrass
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-This oversize book is an intriguing and engrossing mix of facts, history, and hands-on activities. Beginning with a two-page table of contents with chapters arranged as planets in our solar system and an introductory time line, the author takes readers on a historical journey of what was known and/or discovered in each of eight time periods. Each chapter has sidebars containing biographical sketches of noteworthy astronomers and other scientists, additional information on subjects such as telescopes, and activities relating to ideas of that time. The last chapter is a projection into the next decade with the launch of New Horizons, the first spacecraft to visit Pluto. A 20-page "Field Guide to the Solar System" gives concise, pertinent information about the planets, our sun and moon, asteroids, and comets. The facts for each celestial object include its symbol, color, size, rotation, temperature, and an exploration time line. Well organized and authoritative, this title has plenty of material for research projects and reports.-Linda Wadleigh, formerly at Haymon-Morris Middle School, Winder, GA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Combining specific but not heavily technical descriptions with plenty of bright, sharply reproduced color photos, this outstanding up-to-the-minute-and-beyond account of our ages-old study of the solar system will sweep readers up in the wonder and excitement of each new discovery. Writing with Joy Hakim-like vigor-"Copernicus decided that Ptolemy's system was too ridiculously complicated to be true"-Carson opens with ancient views of the heavens' five "wandering stars." She closes with a quick-facts "Field Guide to the Solar System" and in between follows the development of early modern astronomy, traces the international space effort decade by decade and finally looks to upcoming space missions planned for the next decade or so. She also introduces scientists of the past and present (asking many of the latter what first sparked their interest in space), and offers nearly two dozen inexpensive projects or activities. By far the most complete, current and evenhanded look at the space program's successes and failures for younger audiences, this meaty, compelling invitation to explore the high frontier will soar off shelves. (multimedia resource lists, index) (Nonfiction. 11-13)
From the Publisher

"A real science book that should interest children in the solar system."  —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Well-written history of space exploration."  —Seattle Times

"Great to look at . . . The text is packed with detailed information."  —Home Education Magazine

"A refreshing approach."  —Science Books & Films

"Truly creates a mental time line and makes the reader want to continue the saga."  —SB&F

"An absolute treat."  —Bradentown Herald

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556525933
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/30/2006
  • Series: For Kids Series
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 1040L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Kay Carson is the author of more than 15 nonfiction books for children, including The Underground Railroad for Kids, Weather Projects for Young Scientists, and The Wright Brothers for Kids.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2014

    Space

    AWESOME

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2013

    Space

    I love space. My favorite planet is Jupiter. Did you know it has a moon that its air is 100% oxegen?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    Yaay!

    It is awesome

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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