Apologia- Astronomy Homeschooling

Astronomy Unit Study: Unit Seven – Planet Mars

Another astronomy chapter finished. At this speed we should be finished by the year 2099. If we are really diligent. Never the less, the girls are still enjoying learning about the planets, and this lesson about our nearest planetary neighbour was particularly interesting

Planet Mars: Reading

Over a few morning meetings I read out the chapter from the Apologia text book Exploring Creation with Astronomy:

astronomy unit study

Planet Mars: Facts

The girls wrote some brief notes from all they had heard. They also began a mars diary.  Mars Diary is an excellent resource, and is free! You can do as much or as little as you want. I just let the girls do whatever interested them:

Planet Mars: Making a Mars Rover from Candy

This may have been the reason for their enthusiasm. I bought three bags of Licorice Alsorts, one bag of laces and a couple of packets of rectangle Malt biscuits. I also made up some icing to stick everything together:

I’m fairly certain they ate more than they built 🙂

But they sure did have fun…

Here is Abigail’s:

This is Becca’s:

And all of the fabulous rovers all together:

We also made a note book page to record their work (along with some copy work):

Watch out Nasa, here come Claire, Abigail and Becca!

Planet Mars: Rust Experiment

This was such a great experiment to do because I seriously wasn’t expecting the results we got. It was thought that Mars once did have water and the red surface is down to a high iron content which is now fully rusted. This fabulous experiment demonstrates this nicely.

I grabbed a couple of trays, some dry sand, some wet sand and some steel wool:

Abs took the wet sand, whilst Becs took the dry sand. They both measured out the same amount of sand and mixed in some of the snipped up wool:

And the two trays were left on the window sill:

After just 20 hours the steel wool was already turning rusty:

And a few days later and the steel wool was actually breaking down it was so rusty!

A week later and there was absolutely no steel wool left. It had all turned to rust and the sand looked significantly reder than the dry sand:

In the picture above both sands are dry. The one on the right looks damp but is actually completely dry.

To finish off, we made some note pages:

There was, of course, another reason for making this rusty sand, and that was to use it in the creation of our Mars ecosystem.

Planet Mars: Creating a Mars Ecosystem

One of the suggestions in the Apologia text book was to create a large living space/ecosystem in the living room. I honestly did not have the room to do that, so I downsized somewhat!

I covered a plastic tray in an Amazon envelope and some masking tape:

The girls prepared themselves for some planet Mars magic:


We created a frame for the ecosystem and stuck it on the tray using masking tape. The girls then covered the tray with some plaster paper mache fashioning the smiley face crater, and a volcano around a tiny bottle which we filled with bicarbonate of soda:

The volcano:

The ecosystem frame:

The smiley face crater:

The girls added some grass to represent the plants growing inside the ecosystem:

And added some clingfilm over the frame to represent some thickened glass which let in the light for the plants:

The girls painted the whole model a red brown to represent the rust, and also to adhere the rusty sand we had prepared earlier:

Adding the sand:

Exploding volcano

The whole messy model:


And of course a note page:

So much fun!

Related Posts

Astronomy Unit Study

2 comments on “Astronomy Unit Study: Unit Seven – Planet Mars

  1. The steel wool experiment is so cool!

  2. That steel wool experiment is super amazing!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: