Venus Transit – Easy Venus Activities for Kids {including freebies!}

by GfG on June 1, 2012 · 1 comment

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Did you know that one of the “rarest celestial events” is coming up Tuesday?  Did you know Venus will be viewed traipsing across the Sun?   Did you know the next time this occurs is in 2117?  Now you do, so don’t miss it!

We studied some Astronomy last year via Apologia’s Elementary series.  I’ve used other Apologia books and became a big fan.  The astronomy book held the bar.  We did not finish (due to many factors), but have picked it back up for the summer.  Just in time, it seems.

A couples of weeks ago I was tagged in a Facebook post about the solar eclipse (the ring of fire kind) and how Albuquerque was the best place in the world to see it.  I had not heard a thing about it, so I was especially grateful for Facebook that day.  What kind of dufus homeschooling parents would we have looked like the next day?

“Wow!  Was it awesome? Best place in the world to see it!  How fun for you?!”

“What?  See what?”

(insert lame stare and silence here)

We were spared that scenario thanks to Brooke and Facebook.  So,  just know that Facebook definitely has its perks.       ;-)

That awesome evening at the UNM Observatory, everyone was talking about the Venus transit and coming back for it.

“Well, hello!  Of course we’ll be back for that!”  (insert My Sweetie and I making eye contact and telepathic communication about looking up the exact date as well as what a Venus transit is)

So… in prep this week, we did a few Venus lessons and activities.  All easy.  All things you could do before Tuesday.  Seriously.

1st: Read  about Venus.

We read aloud from Exploring Creation with Astronomy, but you could just as easily find a good website on Venus and read some interesting facts and look at photos.  We learned that it takes almost a year for Venus to rotate, less than that to orbit, that it has thousands of volcanoes, is the hottest planet, has a very thick atmosphere, and more.

2nd: Color a picture of Venus (be sure to draw its volcanoes and clouds).  {Freebie: Venus Coloring PDF}

3rd:  Demonstrate lava flow and hardening with this simple activity.

Melt a small amount of butter in a pan.   Turn a small custard dish upside down in the center of a plate.  Pour flour all around the custard dish and up its sides (but not up to  the very top).  Slowly and carefully, pour the melted butter onto the center of the custard dish and watch the butter flow out and down.  You will see “rivers” of “lava”.  Allow the butter to harden for hours, then discuss lava.  The butter represents rock:  melted in the pan, spewed from the volcano, hardens again.  (Activity credit: Exploring Creation with Astronomy)

4th: Have the kids narrate interesting info about Venus.    {Freebie: Venus PDF!}

5th:   Demonstrate how Venus’ atmosphere affects its temperature.

Using a small pan of water, time how long it takes for the water to boil WITHOUT the lid.  Next, using the same amount of water (but the pan must be fully cooled), time how long it takes for the water to boil WITH the lid on it.  Talk about how the lid keeps the heat inside, making the inside of the pan hotter, just like the clouds and atmosphere surrounding Venus keeps the heat.

6th:  Make a volcano.

Settle down!  This really isn’t difficult or a lot of work.  I promise.    They are also very cheap.

There a few ways to do this.  Most of us have seen the baking soda and vinegar activity.  I wanted to do a little more.  We actually did two (that’s how easy these are!)  First was easiest:  dump 1/4 c  baking soda in a cup, squirt some shaving cream on top of it, then pour some vinegar over it all.

This next one I saw on Pinterest!  (Yea, Pinterest again… remember the best Astronomy craft ever?!).  While not as super easy as the first, it’s still simple.  And very impressive.  (Thanks, Carla!)

 

Seriously cool, ja?

Pour 1/2 c of 6% hydrogen peroxide (run to Sally’s Beauty Supply tomorrow! Not grocery hydrogen peroxide, which is 3%), a squirt of dish soap and some food coloring in the water bottle.  Then pour a mix of 1tsp yeast and 2 T warm water (which has been swished around for a bit to dissolve the yeast) in the bottle.  We put colored sprinkles in the yeast mixture because I didn’t realize we didn’t have any food coloring.  Still worked fab!

7th: Lastly, talk about and watch the Venus transit.

Tell your kids and learn together about what the Venus transit is and then buy some #14 welder’s goggles* (remember: looking directly at the sun damages your eyes, even though you can’t feel it! Don’t do it!) to watch the event and enjoy the time with your kids.

Do you know anything about Venus and do you plan to watch the transit? 

 

 

*Regarding viewing:  You could also follow Fox’s suggestion: “The safest and simplest technique, however, is to observe the transit indirectly using the solar projection method. Use your telescope or one side of your binoculars to project a magnified image of the sun’s disk onto a shaded white piece of cardboard. The projected image on the cardboard will be safe to look at and photograph. But be sure to cover the telescope’s finder scope or the unused half of the binoculars, and don’t let anyone look through them.”

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Annamarie January 21, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I am teaching at a private school from the Apologia book and I know exactly about these activities that you are doing. It looks like you have made it more fun and you even have time to blog too! My goodness! How impressive!
I love how you are having fun with your kids.
AM

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