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Teaching STEM & creativity in summer programs


Comet

Submitted by Pam Koschke, Program Associate for Girl Scouts of Colorado

Girl Scouts Outreach Program participated in Youth One Book One Denver (YOBOD) programs this summer. For this program young people across Colorado read a book called “The Comet’s Curse” by Dom Testa.  The book was about a comet that came very close to Earth.  The comet left a virus as it passed by Earth that made everyone sick except people under the age of 18.

Summer learning helps students do better in school and they will be more likely to graduate and be prepared for college. Girl Scouts is excited to be able to contribute to summer programs for YOBOD.

A dramatic and effective way to begin a unit on comets is to make your own comet right in front of the class.  We made a comet in the classroom with dry-ice, sand, water, dark Karo Syrup and ammonia.  As the comet began to melt, the class noticed small jets of gas coming from it.  These are locations where the gaseous carbon dioxide is escaping through small holes in the still frozen water.  This type of activity is also detected on real comets, where the jets can sometimes expel sufficient quantities of gas to make small changes in the orbit of the comet.  The girls were very excited about the activity.  They really enjoyed watching as the comets gas escaped creating a fog that rolled out of the bowl and down off the table.

This activity required a lot of preparation and supplies; however, it was worth it!  The ingredients for a comet are not difficult to find and watching a comet being “constructed” is something the students will remember for a long time.  The kids were so excited and had a great time as well as learning new things about comets.  After the activity, we asked the kids, “What did you learn about comets today”?  One girl said that she learned they are made out of carbon dioxide.

This is a great STEM activity as they are learning science and math. To incorporate some creativity in the lesson, students also got to decorate their own comet! (Pictured here) It was wonderful to watch girls have fun and learn some science.

I would definitely do this activity again!

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