Lessons in this Chapter:

23.1 Telescopes

23.2 Early Space Exploration

23.3 Recent Space Exploration


This chapter covers telescopes and space exploration.  This can be a fascinating subject, so don’t be afraid to spend more time on it.

The suggested activity for this chapter is to build a balloon rocket. It’s a simple experiment that will illustrate the science of thrust. If you purchase the T&K Rocket kit, shown below, you’ll have more than enough experiments to do. If you want to do a full unit study on rocketry, combine the T&K kit with the NASA Adventures in Rocket Science under the Hands-On Activities tab. You would have enough experiments and materials to last two weeks.

If your child is really interested in telescopes, I would strongly urge you to resist the temptation to go out and buy a toy one. They are usually more frustrating than useful. If you want to invest in a good starter telescope, this one comes highly recommended.  There are also some ideas on building your own telescope under the Hands-On Activities tab.

If you want to add some more rocket activities, Thames and Kosmos has a great set on rocket science:

Additional/Alternate Books


Plethora Activity Sheets

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Other Worksheets and Handouts

Hands-On Activities

directions Make a Balloon Rocket

How to Make a Bottle Rocket – If you want something a little flashier.

Adventures in Rocket Science – for a full unit study on rockets.

How Do I Build a Telescope at Home?

How to Build a Telescope

Arts and Crafts

If your child is interested in the history of astronomy, Make a Paper Model of a Moving Copernican and Ptolemaic System

Make a Paper Model of the Subaru Telescope

Make a Paper Model of the H-2A Rocket

If you have a model enthusiast, here are some model kits that contain many of the space craft discussed in the chapter. Please make sure that the difficulty of the model matches your child’s ability.

Extension Ideas

DIY Astronaut Skill

DIY Astronomer Skill

DIY Rocketeer Skill

All of these badges overlap with the next several chapters.

If you have a real rocket enthusiast, there is the whole hobby of rocketry. Fly Rockets! is a good site to look through if you’re interested in getting started. Remember that there are significant safety concerns in flying these rockets and that many areas have laws concerning where they are allowed. The best way to get started is to find a group in your area.

Literature Connection

If you are looking for a good fiction read for your child as you start the Space section, try this series of books written by Stephen Hawking and his daughter, Lucy. They are full of adventure and science. They are more suited to younger middle schoolers and are available at most libraries.

For an older student with a keen interest in astrophysics, Stephen Hawking’s book A Brief History of Time is written for adults, but is very readable.



If your child is really interested in space exploration, we highly recommend the series When We Left Earth:

Check for these at your library or on any streaming services you have.


Learning Guide to Apollo 13

Learning Guide to October Sky

Check for these at your library or on any streaming services you have.