Science at Play

 

Science in Action

This video captures the importance of timing and the dramatic intensity surrounding this eight-week journey:

 

The Launch Window Activity

Try this simple launch simulation activity with your learners:

Explain:

  • “When the team of engineers from SpaceIL finally finished designing their rocket, after years of work, they still had the challenge of calculating the best time window to launch. This is a complex task involving high-level mathematical calculations and considering everything from weather, date, the locations of the moon and earth, amount of jet fuel, weight of the spaceship, and many more. These variables are constantly changing in response to the other variables. In addition, the earth and moon are each spinning fast on their own axes and the moon is orbiting the earth. It only takes one wrong calculation to cause the spaceship to miss the moon! In order to simulate what it is like to launch Beresheet, the SpaceIL rocket, let’s try a simplified simulation:”

Supplies needed:

  • A few small balls, balls of crumpled paper, or other tossable objects
  • An empty bucket or garbage bin
  • A merry-go-round or tire swing (note: having the participants spin themselves in circles could also work!)

The Activity:

  1. Place the bucket on the ground about 8-12 feet away from the merry-go-round. The bucket will represent the moon.
  2. Have one learner step up on the merry-go-round with a ball. The merry-go-round will represent the earth and the ball, the SpaceIL spaceship trying to launch to the moon.
  3. Without moving the merry-go-round, try tossing a few balls into the bucket. This should be fairly easy to do.
  4. With the learner still on the merry-go-round, help them get it spinning. Now have them try tossing the balls into the bucket as they spin around. This will definitely be much harder! Be sure to allow for multiple tries.
  5. Explain: “Adding the motion makes it a lot harder to hit your target. Now imagine that you only have one chance to “launch” and the target is on another spinning merry-go-round. Now you have a small taste of the challenge that SpaceIL needs to overcome in order to successfully send Beresheet to the moon!”

Adapted from NASA’s Space Place.

Additional Resources