Jr Astronomers, Astrophysicists and Earth's "Cosmic Address"

In this course, students take a journey through the solar system and beyond. This dynamic year-long curriculum focuses on integral elements of astrophysics, astronomy, chemistry and geology. It also provides easy entry points for students who wish to join the class during the winter or spring terms. Major underlying concepts in this curriculum include systems and change.

Building upon day-school learning and The Innovation Institute's curricular learning progressions, students actively investigate questions in depth that include:

  • What is the difference between a star and a planet?
  • What is the difference between a solar system and a galaxy?
  • What are the size and scale of stars, planets and galaxies?
  • What is planet earth's place in space? What is the earth's "cosmic address"?

Students engage in hands-on experiments, observe space imaging and participate in unique interactive opportunities that deepen their understanding of astronomy and astrophysical concepts. Activities include solar system scavenger hunts and use of the World-Wide Telescope.

Students learn first hand how engineering fuels space exploration when they are challenged to design a rocket that can hits its target, which involves them in potential and kinetic energy and distance-angle relationships among other things. Student engineers are challenged to build a shock absorbing system to protect space travelers when they land at their destination.

Innovation Institute students join their peers from around the globe in an engineering design challenge to recommend materials that best block harmful radiation--a key issue for longer-term space travel. "All students that participate in this challenge can join other participants from around the world to celebrate the Exploration Flight Test-1 of Orion by having their names flown on board as honorary crew members," according to NASA.

Site visits or visiting specialists! The Innovation Institute's team engages area research institutions and industries to help our students understand how and why real people are investigating the science behind and developing innovative solutions to the topics covered in this grade's curriculum.  

Learning entry points will include the use of storytelling, fiction and nonfiction literature and art.