Astronomy Unit Study: Unit Ten – Saturn


Saturn: Reading

I read the lesson about Saturn to the girls from their Apologia text book:


Saturn: Writing

The girls wrote some notes about Saturn after each read aloud:


They also filled in a venn diagram comparing Jupiter and Saturn, as well as a small cross word:


Making a Saturn Model

The girls coloured in a cross-section diagram of Saturn, and filled in a Saturn mini book:


We then made a model of Saturn, using a tennis ball which had been sawn in half, a CD, super glue and some acrylic paint:

We glued the CD in between the two halves of the tennis ball:

The girls painted the ball and CD model:

They used a full variety of yellows, oranges and browns:

It needed two coats:

It turned out much better than I thought it would!


Especially from the side angle:


We made a note page to record the work in the girls’ journals:

Saturn: Cassini Space Craft

I showed the girls a YouTube video of the Cassini space-craft taking off:

Saturn: Having Fun with a Balloon Cassini

This was such a simple activity. We attached a length of string between two chairs, having threaded a straw onto the string:

The girls blew up a sausage balloon, clamping the end with a crocodile clip. and attaching the balloon to the straw using tape:

When everything was set, Becca removed the clip from the balloon and it whizzed across the string:


It zipped across far too quickly for me to capture it:


I tried it on black and white, because for some reason black and white captures movement better than colour. Here is Abs removing the crocodile clip:

And off it zipped:

If I did this again, I would use a much longer string to give it a bit more of a wow factor.

Saturn: Having Fun with a Test-Tube Rocket

This was a great MEL chemistry activity which just happened to correspond well with learning about the Cassini space craft:

It was just your basic acid base reaction, but it honestly did look a bit like the launch video of Cassini. Not maybe quite as over whelming, or as fire-y:


but never the less… (slightly) explosive:


Although, it, much like the balloon rocket, was over and done with in less than a second:


We made a note book page to record the girls learning:

Saturn: Cassini and its Gravity Assist

A gravity assist is a spaceflight technique in which the gravitational field of a planet is used to increase the speed and alter the path of a spacecraft without using fuel.

In this demonstration, we used the pull of a magnetic field to increase the speed and alter the path of the space craft ball bearing.

We taped the beaker to the back of the box tray to give it an incline:

The loo roll was then attached as shown below to give a launching spot:

We used gaffa tape for its strength, but any tape would have done:

I am now going into black and white to capture the movement:

Abs let the ball bearing go inside the tube:

As expected its trajectory was straight down:

Which continued down…

Until it reached the tray below:

Next, we attached a strong magnet to the back:

Using gaffa tape again:

After marking the first path of the ball bearing, without the magnet to exert forces, Abs let the ball bearing through its launch roll:

Almost immediately the ball bearing was pulled away towards the magnet:


We marked the trajectory and pathway of the ‘gravity assist’ space craft:


And, of course, we made some note pages to go in the girls’ journals:


A great learning unit!

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