All About Space–For Brownies

My Brownies are CRAZY for Cosmology, Astronomy, Astrophysics and Astronauts. So crazy, that one meeting night with Astronomy in Action was not enough, in fact, an evening of discovery (and blowing up planets and other celestial bodies) only made them want MORE space meetings! So here we go. I decided that we would work towards this cool looking Space Badge from WAGGGS.

So, here is how the 1st Holland Landing Brownies explored space during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Weekly Planning

1st Holland Landing Brownies

Date: Feb 3 2021 & Feb 10 2021

Even More Space Science!

Activity DescriptionWho is leading it?Program to be coveredMaterials NeededTime needed
Activity 1Read Professor Astro Cat’s STARGAZINGThe book5-10 min
Activity 2The Story of Cassiopeia min
Activity 3Marshmallow ConstellationsGoogle Doc of constellationsMini MarshmallowsToothpicksOR Pipecleaners and beads20-30 min
Activity 4Read Roberta Bondar Space ExplorerThe book5 min
Activity 5Train Like an Astronaut with GlovesGloves and manipulation objects
Activity 6Apollo 13–Houston We Have a Problem min
Activity 7Problem SolversEach girl should have any 5 regular household items10 min
Activity 8Story of Margaret Hamilton & ½ min
Activity 9Astronomy Kahoot!
Activity 10The Alphabet Game15 min
Activity 11Powers of TEN min
Activity 12Expanded Universe (playing with time)Balloon with stars etc.5 min
Activity 13Patch MakerPaper and drawing/colouring tools15-20 min

For gathering, I actually had a colouring picture of Astronaut Mae Jemison up on screen share for the Brownies to colour in and read about to get us warmed up for the first meeting. You can download the printable and read a little more about her here: Mae Jemison.

Activity 1

Astro Cat’s Stargazing

First we read Astro Cat’s Stargazing, which is a fantastic starter for the Brownie age group. You can join Professor Astro Cat and friends for a journey deep into darkest outer space! This fascinating adventure teaches Brownies about the wonders of stars, how they’re made and what they can tell us about the universe. It’s a great addition to your Brownie Library.

Activity 2

The Story of Cassiopeia

For this book, we headed over to Epic and read Chapter 3 of The Constellation Cassiopeia: The Story of the Queen. It’s a bit of a long one, there is a much shorter version at the beginning of that book that will suffice if your Brownies are younger, or just not into listening to longer stories. I’ve found most kids these days don’t read a lot of the old style of fables and tales. This story was a bit of a shock to them, both in terms of the sexism and the general ridiculousness of them. Welcome to Greek Mythology, Brownies! We discussed how these stories were very important to the people who told them back in the days of Ancient Greece. So important that they were written in the stars! The Brownies liked this idea very much and did not hesitate to make up their own constellation stories in subsequent activities, as you shall see!

I chose Cassiopeia because she is one of the easiest starts to pick out of the sky.

Activity 3

Marshmallow Constellations.

These are so much fun! Using marshmallows (the small ones are the best, bonus points for the little coloured ones as some of our budding Cosmologists insisted on using different colours to differentiate between the different types of stars in the constellations (This is not their first time at the Astronomical Rodeo) and toothpicks we used pictures selected constellations to recreate them. We started off easy, with our new friend Cassiopeia, and moved onto the Big Dipper, etc., and ended with Orion. The Brownies though Leo looked not at all like a lion, but more like a mouse, so they made up their own constellation story about Leo the Mouse.

Here is the document I used to work on our Marshamallow Constelations:

Activity 4

Roberta Bondar

We read a little about Canadian Astronaut, Roberta Bondar. This is especially fitting, since Roberta Bondar is a former Girl Guide, and she brought GGC cookies into space!

Image result for Roberta bondar, space explorer

Activity 5

Train Like an Astronaut

For this activity, we talked about the space suit and Brownies donned on their bulky winter or work gloves and attempted several fine motor skills such as putting together Lego, sorting through a jewelry box, organize a board game, etc. This activity was based on the Mission X, Train Like an Astronaut: Adapted Physical Activity Strategies. There are many amazing Astronaut activities on that European Space Agency site, and I highly recommend spending some time browsing their website for more ideas!

Activity 6

Apollo 13: Houston We Have a Problem

Of course, sometimes things go wrong in space. Although everyone works really hard to make it very safe for our brave astronauts to travel to space in the name on science and exploration, sometimes things still go wrong! Apollo 13 is the best way to help kids this age understand that without scaring them off with rocket and shuttle explosions etc. We watched a little youtube clip from the movie about Apollo 13, called “Failure is not an Option“. In this clip, the ground crew in Houston were working hard to figure out how to solve the problem that happened as the Apollo 13 crew made their attempt for the moon.

Activity 7

Problem Solvers

What do Girl Guides do when we are faced with a challenge? We stay calm, and we help solve the problem! I asked the Brownies ahead of time to collect five “every day items” for our meeting. In this activity, the girls will help solve problems with every day items, similar to how the ground crew and the astronauts aboard Apollo 13.

For this activity, I told the girls a problem I was having, “I’ve cut my knee,” for an example. They would sort through their items and try and figure out if any of their items could help in this situation. They raised their hands, and when called on they shared with the rest of the group why it might be a helpful object, then they worked together to come up with a plan. some other examples of problems I had were:

  • It’s raining and I don’t have an umbrella
  • I’m bored and I need something to entertain me
  • I’m hungry, but I have no cooking tools
  • I need something to help me reach an item on the top shelf

Activity 8

Story of Margaret Hamilton

For this we watched the Rebel Girl story of Margaret Hamilton on Epic Books. With this we talk about the past of computers (my Brownies adore Ada Lovelace), the black women who were human computers during the early years of the Space Race, and how they later became irreplaceable computer programmers for the first IBM machines NASA used, and how Margaret Hamilton was responsible for putting man on the moon, and the challenges she faced as a woman in STEM in the 1960s.

Activity 9

Astronomy Kahoot!

Check out this Brownie’s Astronomy Kahoot! made by yours truly. Let the girls test their space knowledge and have fun doing it!

Activity 10

The Alphabet Game

This is the same old Alphabet Game we often play at camps etc. Ask your Brownies to collect paper and a writing tool. Choose someone to be the alphabet picker. Their job is to silently go through the alphabet until someone tells them to stop (someone who is picked as the alphabet stopper). Then they say the letter out loud. Then they have 2 minutes to jot down every word they can think of that has anything to do with Space.

I have to admit, I was completely shocked with some of the words my Brownies came up with!! I feel like we definitely added to their vocabulary with these meetings! We played 4 rounds, with extremely loose scoring (its just supposed to be for fun!). If anyone else also wrote down your words, those get crossed off everyone’s list. Then, add up whatever words are left, whomever has the most wins.

Activity 11

Powers of Ten

The Power of Ten is a video created back in the ’70s by Eames. It’s such a classic and one of the best ways to help explain to anyone how crazy big our universe is, and our place in it. It takes a little sensitivity to present this video. It’s a little heavy, prompting some to contemplate for the first time just how tiny they are compared to the rest of the universe. We don’t want Brownies going around in existential crisis, we want them to be inspired by the mystery and wildness of nature of the universe. Have a look at the photos I’ve posted. Look at their faces and the comments they made on the side. Their minds were blowing. They are not to young to start to contemplate such unknowable concepts as the vastness of space, and the meaning of reality.

What followed was a long conversation about size, meaning and how the heck can we ever understand the universe and our place in it?? I highly recommend talking about the video makes you feel: awe, wonder, amazement, hesitation, fear, insignificance, overwhelming, etc. Let the girls know they are not alone in whatever feelings they have about the size of the universe. And, bring them back to the wonder of it all, and encourage them to be the ones who will discover the endless mysteries of the deep universe, time and space, and the metaphysical meaning of life. LOL (but really, do it).

Activity 12

Expanded Universe (Playing with Time)

This activity nicely piggybacks with the last one. We use balloons to model the expansion of the universe and observe how expansion affects wavelengths of or light and distance between galaxies. It teaches the Brownies that: the universe is expanding and has done so since the big bang; as the universe expands, the distance between the galaxies increases; and light from galaxies stretches–the wavelength of light increases–as the universe expands and the galaxies move apart.

This activity is a part of NASA’s Universe of Learning and can be found here: The Expanded Universe: Playing with Time. The activity can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes depending on how deep you want to go. I had a balloon ready to go, with star stickers and the time wave already drawn, and did it more as a demonstration. However, having the girls do the activity would be much more meaningful (we were constrained by time and pandemic resources).

Activity 13

Patch Maker

Every great adventure needs a badge! We already know this in Guiding, but the girls were super excited to learn they also know this at the various space agencies across the world. Mission patches have long been part of space exploration culture. These emblems are worn by the people who are involved in a particular mission. For human space flight missions, astronauts determine the design of their own patch.

So in honour of our 3-meeting space exploration, I asked the girls to make a patch according to the three elements generally included in the Space Mission Patches. You can find more details on this activity from the Canadian Space Agency at: Patch Maker, Patch Maker, Make me a Patch.

And that’s how we learned about Space in Brownies! This plan would make an excellent camp, and looking back, I do wish I had done it that way, but there is always next year! Give yourself a good two-three meetings if you plan to do all the activities. Have fun!

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