Space Club Highlighted at the Arizona STEM Expo

The space club that I mentor for the Sonoran Science Academy was invited to participate in the Arizona STEM Expo in early May. The kids and I were excited to share our enthusiasm for space, so we built an exhibit that reflected many of the activities that we’ve done over the semester.

Our fantastic exhibit!
Of course there were Stormtroopers
The expo included robots and gadgets and demos












Our fantastic exhibit featured our past activities, papercraft models, Lego models, NASA posters, science and Star Wars books, and lots of space-related brochures from NASA and Orbital Sciences.

Many expo attendees were intrigued by the Lego model of the Mars Curiosity Rover, built by one of our 7th graders, and I lost count of the people who borrowed my solar viewing glasses for a quick observation of the sun! In fact, those glasses were so popular that I need to order a bunch more to share next time we have an event.

The solar viewing glasses were very popular!
The solar viewing glasses were very popular!
A close-up of our models
Our window on the Earth, as seen LIVE from the International Space Station!











Thanks to Mr. Akpinar from Sonoran Science Academy for inviting us to the expo. It was great to share our love of space and science with others!

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Imagine. You are an astronaut looking down on the Earth. You see this…

NASA has a new window on the world in the form of a live video feed from the International Space Station as it orbits the Earth. I could seriously watch this all day.









If you see a black screen, it’s because the ISS is in darkness, over the night side of Earth.

If you see a grey screen, it means that they are switching camera views or the feed from the ISS is temporarily not available.

Want to be notified when the ISS is overhead your location at night, so you can observe it tracking across the sky? Check out and give the astronauts the #ISSWave as they pass by.

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My Favorite Space-related resources (for now…)

I’d like to share a list of my favorite space and science links at the AZ STEM Expo this Saturday, so I will post them here for ease of reference. I’m sure I’ve missed some of your favorites, so let me know what they are and I’ll add a reader-suggested section!

Contact me here or via Twitter at @nwkmom. Looking forward to revisiting some of these very soon!

Explore more! Check out our favorite space-related links


Fizzy / Pop Rockets
Build a Stomp Rocket Launcher
Build Paper Rockets to use with your Rocket Launcher
Pop Can “Hero Engine”


Papercraft models:

JPL Paper Models:
NASA paper models:
We built a simple scale model of the Cassini spacecraft:


Live, realtime, and incredibly awesome!

Live video from the ISS! See the earth from the space station!
NASA Deep Space Network real-time dashboard – see the Voyager Probes communicating with scientists!
Simulation app! NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System, a 3-D environment full of real NASA mission data that you control!
Education & Launch coverage! Watch live streaming of launches and educational programs at NASA TV!
Spot the International Space Station as it appears over your city!
How many people are in space RIGHT NOW? See who they are and what countries they represent!


Get Social and Connect with NASA

Some of my favorite space-related Twitter accounts & hashtags:
#spacetweeps, #NASASocial, #launchfever, #STEM
@MarsCuriosity – on the planet Mars right now!@NASAVoyager – headed out of the solar system!@Astro_Clay – Clayton Anderson, NASA astronaut@Astro_Cady – Catherine “Cady” Coleman, NASA astronaut

@Astro_Flow – Leland Melvin, NASA astronaut

@StationCDRKelly – Scott Kelly, NASA astronaut preparing for his next mission

@NASA – the main NASA Twitter account

@NASAJPL – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

@carolynporco – Carolyn Porco, planetary scientist and Cassini expert

Photos on Pinterest from NASA astronaut and mom Karen Nyberg
Ambient Space Station Sounds and Music from Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield
Multiple NASA YouTube accounts offer outstanding video, news, astronaut Q&A
Goddard Space Flight Center is just one of many NASA Flickr accounts sharing images from real missions
Facebook is an excellent way to connect to NASA
NASA Apps, ringtones, ebooks, blogs, and chats
Be an explorer! Register for a NASA Social
Past NASA Socials documented by the community


Citizen Science – your participation is requested!

Cosmoquest: Planet Mappers, Moon Mappers, Asteroid Mappers
NASA Citizen Science
Zooinverse: Take part in Science Projects:
Planetary Society’s collection of citizen science opportunities:



What good is space exploration?
Worldwide launch calendar
NASA resources for students
See the gorgeous images of Saturn and its rings coming from the Cassini mission
NASA Kids’ Club
How does space exploration improve your daily life?
SpacePlace: Cool Stuff For Parents and Educators
Rockets Educator Guide
NASA resources for teachers





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Space Club at the Sonoran Science Academy

We built paper rockets, taped a penny inside for stability, and the kids enjoyed stomping the air out of empty 2-liter soda bottles to launch their creations. We discussed why some rockets seemed to fly better than others.
We built paper rockets, taped a penny inside for stability, and the kids enjoyed stomping the air out of empty 2-liter soda bottles to launch their creations. We discussed why some rockets seemed to fly better than others.

Earlier this year I started up a Space Club for the students at the Sonoran Science Academy in Peoria, Arizona. Mentoring these kids has been a blast: they are curious, intelligent, enthusiastic, and silly — everything you want to see in a club that meets weekly on Friday afternoons (yes, Fridays!).

We only have one more club meeting before the end of the school year, and we’ve been invited to participate in the AZ STEM Expo this Saturday, May 10th, so we get to share our love of space with all of the attendees!

Some of our space club activities have included:


Looking back at that list, we accomplished quite a lot in a few months!

I have to include a major “thank you” to Jennifer Cheesman, a local elementary school teacher and fellow “spacetweep”. She shared her supplies with us, enabling us to launch stomp rockets and fizzy rockets. We had a lot of fun!

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Happy New Year 2012!

Okay, I am back. One of my resolutions for the new year is to do less thinking about doing things and more just doing things. And way more writing.

Dan and I took Charlie to a “Mad Science” event for Cub Scouts recently, where we spent the afternoon in 5-6 sessions learning about the scientific method and how to apply it. Being in that kind of learning environment really energized us, and we started thinking about ways that we could help other kids learn about science. It would be great to try and get a similar afternoon session set up at Charlie’s school. I started wondering what it would be like to teach, and whether it would be as much fun if I weren’t just teaching my own son. I remember an old saying about doing the things that give you energy, and avoiding the things that use up your energy — and I can get fired up about tapping into kids’ natural curiosity and sharing my enthusiasm for the sciences, space, math, and just overall learning.

Real-time simulation of GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B orbiting the moon
Real-time simulation of GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B orbiting the moon

Speaking of space, did you know that there are two new satellites orbiting the moon as of today? GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B are due to be renamed soon — NASA gave kids the opportunity to name these twin spacecraft, and I’m hoping we’ll learn the new names in the coming weeks.

There is a great simulation that anyone can explore, at You will be able to follow the GRAIL spacecraft from launch to orbit and decommissioning (crashing into the moon), and also explore the rest of the solar system and other satellites as if you were in your own craft, zooming in and learning about each stop.

I’ll try to post here at least once a week from now on, and I hope to hone some mean writing skillz and work on a short story or two. Hope you’ll join me in my journey!


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