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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Sky's the Limit !?!

This summer many states including Michigan will take part in the multi-state Summer Reading Program with the theme: Fizz, Boom, Read!

I have told stories about astronomy for years and decided my focus in the science-oriented theme should be

The Sky's the Limit with Star and Sky Stories That Fizz, Boom, and Sizzle

Whether you are a librarian, teacher, naturalist, storyteller, or general reader, I decided to do a search for "Kid-friendly" resources with an emphasis on both fun and learning about space.

Comets may fizzle and be less than we hope to see
Here are resources you may see for yourself.  Because children cover a wide age span, some will be the wrong age for your child or group, but that doesn't mean they fizzle out altogether.  Just like Halley's Comet, they exist and what may be discovered depends on who you are.

As a Michigan resident and storyteller, I support the Michigan eLibrary now in its ninth year, offering resources for all ages, including Kids.  If you are a Michigan library card holder, don't forget to check Resources for Kids & Parents and try the Kids InfoBits and the eLibrary or the eLibrary Elementary for Space and Astronomy.  Information is purchased by the state library and so it is only available for Michigan residents with library cards.

The following resources are open to all on the internet.

You may have made or seen a project showing the size and placement of the planets.  Expand that knowledge in this Smithsonian game and video about the size of the universe.  Naturalists, Teachers, Librarians, or Storytellers interested in an activity to experience that size and placement of the planets can take children on a trip with the Magic School Bus as it gets Lost in Space trying to find Ms. Frizzle.

You may notice the illustration has only eight planets shown.  Poor Pluto was demoted to a Dwarf Planet, meaning books and other resources from 2006 and earlier need revision.  See what astronomers decided and how it affects more than just the former ninth planet. 

Another way to experience space is an animated online quiz that lets you try Moon Olympics showing how gravity there would change sports activities like weight lifting, diving, skateboarding and others.

Two websites offer an excellent service for presenting information about astronomy in attractive and understandable ways.  
  • EarthSky has the latest science news and photos.  Click on Tonight for the latest sky information, including brightest stars, moon phases, meteor shower guides, constellations, and more.  As I write this, the micro-moon, or the smallest full moon of the year is today, January 15, and tomorrow on the 16th.  Next year it will be March 5.  The largest full moon for 2014 will be August 10, when the moon comes the closest to earth.  That's also near the end of Summer Reading program!
  • Similarly the Old Farmer’s Almanac has an Astronomy section which lets you see rising and setting times for the sun and moon; Sky Watch for special astronomical events; eclipse, tide, and meteor shower calendars; videos; a blog and much more, including something I really love – moon folklore.
Last, but definitely not least, NASA offers information for kids from kindergarten on up, including a great activities and games section for grades K-4 and 5-8, with phone apps and social networking for high school and beyond.  There’s also a NASA Kids Club starting even as early as preschool with adult help and for older kids to have fun while learning.

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