The galaxy is a cool topic, and now more than ever it is fascinating children and driving them to ask tough questions. Science has advanced the study of our universe and we are learning new things every day. As we seek to understand our place in the galaxy and in the universe, we attempt to pass the knowledge on to young learners in plain language.
Children as young as preschool can start grasping concepts about space. Here are five lessons every student should learn about the galaxy:
1. The Position of the Planets from the Sun
Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune (and sometimes Pluto). There are several mnemonic devices to use, but the best one is My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos (Probably). Plus, you can find many versions of planet songs and videos that help kids remember on YouTube. If you are feeling super adventurous, you could even purchase cool planet stickers and put them on your child’s ceiling or wall. Then go over the order every night before bed.
2. There over 50 Galaxies in the Local Group
The vast universe is home to billions of galaxies, and there are three types—spiral, irregular, and elliptical. We are in the Milky Way, a spiral galaxy that is grouped with over 50 other galaxies (include low-luminosity galaxies) called “The Local Group.” For more kid-friendly facts on The Local Group, check out this website.
3. The Eight Star Types
There are actually way more than eight types of stars, but start kids off easy with these names:
- T Tauri Star
- Main Sequence Star
- Red Giant Star
- White Dwarf Star
- Red Dwarf Star
- Neutron Star
- Supergiant Star
If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of star types, you can view this chart that gives great information on star classification.
4. Basic Facts About the Sun
The sun is a star in our galaxy—and it is huge! It is so big, a whole 1.3 million Earths could fit into it. Earth is the third planet from the sun, but it is still 93 million miles away. Just like all-stars, the sun was born as a young as a young, gaseous protostar and over some 50 million years, it turned into the yellow dwarf you see in the sky today. The sun is made of plasma, 75% of which is charged with hydrogen, 25% with helium, and small amounts of oxygen, carbon, neon, and iron also exist. Read more facts about the sun.
5. Basic Facts About the Moon
Compared to the sun, the moon is relatively close to Earth and is much, much younger! It is 238,900 miles away and about as old as Earth itself—4.5 billion years. The moon has two sides that alternate sun and no sun. On the sun side, temperatures can reach 253 degrees, and on the no sun side, they can plunge to -243 degrees (both in Fahrenheit). No one knows how the moon was created, so it’s still one of the greatest space mysteries. Read more facts about the moon.
Sharing information on our galaxy can be enlightening and fun, and kids often love to hear about planets and stars. Even if your child is hearing it at school, you can reinforce the education at home with these five lessons that inspire them to look upward.