This past January, did you and your Girl Scout stay up late to see the super blood wolf moon? I woke my daughters up around 11 pm, bundled up against the cold, and headed out to our backyard. Although their eyes were heavy with sleep, they looked up at the rust-colored moon in awe. Seeing their celestial friend in a new light let them discover nuances they wouldn’t normally notice. We didn’t admire the moon’s color differentiation too long though—the cold air made our breath easily visible in the night air and the warmth of our beds called to us. That night, we dreamed of exploring space, stars and distant planets, happy to have seen a cosmic event that won’t happen again until May of 2021.
Chances are you probably have a few budding space scientists in your troop who dream of exploring life beyond our planet. Thankfully, you don’t need to be an aerospace engineer to bring the magic of the solar system to your next meeting and ignite the spark of space wonderment in your troop! There are many ways to explore the sun, the planets that circle it, our neighbor the moon, and the stars that light up our night sky without needing to go back to school first.
A few weeks ago, I hosted a troop of Girl Scout Juniors to explore life in the stars. As my Junior astronauts settled into our space station, I asked them what they thought life in space would be like. How would they go about doing daily tasks: washing their hair, exercising, or eating their favorite sandwich? I had them turn and talk to one another about how their life would be different if they lived aboard the International Space Station (ISS) before showing them this brief clip of what astronauts do while living in space.
Something as simple as a two-and-a-half-minute video can kindle your troop’s inner space explorers and get them excited about life in the stars. After our discussion, we learned about five important female astronauts: Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space; Eileen Collins, the first woman shuttle commander and first woman shuttle pilot; Barbara Morgan, NASA’s first professional educator astronaut; and Peggy Whitson, the first female commander of the ISS and the current US record holder for the most days in space—a whopping 665 days!
When Girl Scouts see astronauts that look like them, their curiosity is piqued, and they are more likely to imagine themselves living and working in space. The new Space Science badges do this as well by encouraging Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors to look up in the sky and harness their inner star dust as they learn about the sun, the moon, the stars, and life in space.
Wondering how to incorporate some fun cosmic activities in your next troop meeting? Here are three fun activities that will introduce your astronauts to the magic that is space exploration.
This interstellar treat is a great hands-on way to introduce what the planets look like, and the best part is eating the tasty creations when you are done! To make the planet toppers for your cosmic dessert, flatten almond paste and use small cookie cutters or a knife to cut out the planets. They shouldn’t be scaled to size though, or poor Mercury would hardly be more than a speck! Use toothpicks to apply gel food coloring in the planets, and spherically shaped candy to represent any moons.
Wear your love of space by making interstellar necklaces featuring your favorite planet, constellation, or galaxy. To make this intergalactic creation, you will need flat bottle cap pendants, epoxy stickers, chains, cosmic pictures, and double-sided tape. Place the epoxy sticker over the picture you want to wear, apply the double-sided tape to the back, press into the bottle cap pendant, and voilà!
Pinwheels of the Stars
The Pinwheel Galaxy is 21 million light years away from us, but you don’t need to travel that far to make your own Pinwheel Galaxy. Gather up a hole-punch, scissors, pipe cleaners, and sticks along with printable pictures of the Pinwheel Galaxy to make this craft which introduces Girl Scouts to the wonderment of galaxies. Head over to NASA Space Place for full directions.
Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors all have the chance to earn these new interstellar badges now. And older girls, don’t fret—badges for Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors will be released this fall. As astronomer Vera Rubin says, “You can change the world, for you are made of star stuff, and you are connected to the universe.” Don’t wait until the next super blood wolf moon to introduce your troop to the wonderment in the sky!
Caroline Little – Caroline is a French teacher at Saint Thomas Academy, an all-boys school in Mendota Heights, MN. She moderates the school’s internationally recognized Experimental Vehicle team, which gives students a real-life, hands-on engineering experience. Caroline has received numerous awards and recognition for her excellence in teaching, including the honor of being named the 2015 National French Teacher of the Year at the Secondary Level by the American Association of Teachers of French. She is also a DiscoverE Girl Day Role Model, and in 2017, participated in NASA’s Inaugural Microgravity University for Educators (Hence her love of all-things space!). A Girl Scout in her youth, Caroline is now the mom of Girl Scouts Emilie and April. In her free time, she loves to draw, garden, and go on adventures with her family.