Spaced Out

My 15 year old is currently obsessed with space.  He wakes up in the morning thinking about rockets.  He goes to bed at night and dreams about space travel.  He spends his days thinking about rockets, and how to build one.

So what can we do with this interest in space?

Astronomy Days at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, NC) – Some very family-friendly and fun hands-on activities, scientific speakers, demonstrations, and informative science tables and special displays set up throughout the museum.

LEGO has some fun space sets.  I thought we were mostly finished with our Legos, but apparently not.  My son is creating a scene that combines all of the space sets, and assorted others, that looks like it would be a very exciting place to visit.  Many of the LEGO space sets are fictional, but they have also had some good ones based on real-life space programs.

White Sands Missile Range Museum (White Sands, NM) – For anyone who enjoys space history and looking at model rockets and memorabilia.

missile museum

Very Large Array (Datil, NM) – Have you ever wondered what we can hear in space?

9-18 datil VLA1

Model Rockets – It’s not too difficult to build and launch your own model rockets.  We have a big open field near our house that makes a good launch site.  Model rockets can appeal to those who like to create and decorate (build your own), and also those who enjoy the actual excitement of launching (mechanics, physics, and things that go “BANG!”)

I’m sure there are many space-themed computer games out there.  The few that we have used and enjoyed are:

Kerbal Space Program – This one had a bit of a steep learning curve and it took my son a while to get into it and fully understand it.  It came highly recommended to us, however, and I’m glad he kept coming back to it.  Now he loves it and is continually coming up with new ideas to try.

Spaceflight Simulator – This app is another that my son really enjoys.

And finally, he recently wanted to do some math.  He thought maybe math does have some real-life applications after all.  How can you figure out the desired trajectory of your rocket as it reaches orbital range without math?