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Saturn in Your Kitchen and Backyard

Saturn in Your Kitchen and Backyard

Which Way Should I Point?
The Cassini Outreach Team has created classroom activities that teach students about the science and engineering behind the Cassini Mission to Saturn. Called "Saturn in Your Kitchen and Backyard," these activities are designed with cost in mind.

The activities contain background information, a list of required materials, the procedure required to complete the activity, and the national education standards applicable to each activity. While most activities are focused on middle school (5-8) use, they can easily be adapted to other grade levels. If you have comments or suggestions on how to adapt these materials for other grade levels, add additional components to an activity, or general enrichment, please send us your ideas!

The lessons are in Adobe's Acrobat Reader format. If you don't have the program, you can download the Acrobat Reader from the Adobe website, free of charge.

The classroom activities listed below cover the following topics: Asteroids, Saturn System Science, Trajectory Activities, Spacecraft Engineering, and General Science and Math.



When the Sky is Falling... (PDF, 369 KB)
Impact cratering has shaped planetary surfaces and life on Earth. Students will explore the cratering process and understand the relationship between the projectile, the energy it delivers, and the landform it creates.

Mapping Worlds That Look Like Stars (PDF, 194 KB)
This activity demonstrate methods developed by astronomers to map objects too distant to show detail when viewed with a telescope.

Finding Worlds That Look Like Stars (PDF, 198 KB)
Demonstrate methods developed by astronomers to discover asteroids, comets, and variable and exploding stars.


Saturn System Science

Unveiling Titan's Surface (PDF, 223 KB)
Students make measurements of topographic features and draw maps based on these data.

What Is Synchronous Rotation? (PDF, 181 KB)
Combine an analogous situation in the classroom with direct observations already made so that students will better understand the rotation and orbital revolution of planets.

Monitoring the Sun's Corona (PDF, 326 KB)
Students will learn how spacecraft use the relative positions of the Sun, Earth, and a spacecraft to study the Sun's outer region, called the corona.

Scattering: Seeing the Microscopic Among the Giants (PDF, 283 KB)
Demonstrate how light waves passing through a medium can be used to determine the sizes of particles within the medium.

Sand or Rock: Finding Out From 1000 km (PDF, 164 KB)
Students observe the differences in thermal behavior between similar materials having different physical properties by making a series of temperature measurements and plotting the results.

Planetary Magnetic Fields (PDF, 148 KB)
Demonstrate magnetism and its measurement and apply these concepts to understanding the structure of surrogate planets.

Can Photosynthesis Occur at Saturn? (PDF, 166 KB)
Students will learn the basic principle of photosynthesis and how light intensity diminishes as a function of distance from the light source.

Lightning in a Planetary Atmosphere (PDF, 319 KB)
Students reproduce and study in the classroom phenomena analogous to the "flash-bang" of lightning and thunder. The observation of lightning in a planetary atmosphere indicates that active meteorology is occurring.


Trajectory Activities

Planetary Billiards (PDF, 325 KB)
This activity illustrates how the force of gravity is used to modify the trajectory of a spacecraft.


Spacecraft Engineering

Which Way Should I Point? (PDF, 230 KB)
Cassini is carrying 12 science instruments to Saturn. All 12 of these instruments are "body fixed" which means that in order to point one instrument at Saturn, the entire spacecraft must be turned.

Gingerbread Spacecraft (PDF, 109 KB)
This activity demonstrates how a model of Cassini can be constructed using edible products, much like a ginger bread house.

The Spinning World of Spacecraft Reaction Wheels (PDF, 184 KB)
This activity demonstrates how reaction wheels (also known as momentum wheels) take advantage of Newton's Third Law to control a spacecraft's orientation.

Can a Spacecraft Use Solar Panels at Saturn? (PDF, 150 KB)
Demonstrate the effect of the inverse square law of illumination with distance.


General Science and Math

Waves (PDF, 133 KB)
This activity demonstrates traveling and standing waves and transverse and longitudinal waves.

Waves Interference (PDF, 152 KB)
This activity allows students to experience wave interference with their own senses.

Observing Outer Planets (PDF, 169 KB)
Students practice making regular observations of a natural phenomenon and record appropriate data;

Venus: A Global Greenhouse (PDF, 282 KB)
Students take temperature measurements in closed systems over time to demonstrate "greenhouse warming," which is observed in greenhouses and in planetary atmospheres like those of Venus, Saturn's moon Titan, and possibly Earth's.