Jupiter's Red Spot science lesson astronomy 4th

Jupiter science lesson



A few months ago in one of my science lesson posts I wrote about in a different Jupiter art and science lesson, I left you hanging for almost two months wondering how the rest of our Jupiter studies went.

Studying the weather of Jupiter

And I apologize for that, I’ve been feeling rather blah writing about our science adventures because it’s felt like none of them have gone right this year.  They all took loads of retries and I’ve been burned out a bit on the whole thing.

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Why you need to study clouds to understand Jupiter’s weather

Jupiter art and science lesson astronomy 5th

Let’s take a second and talk about Jupiter.  Jupiter is a fun planet, it’s a gas giant, it’s a protostar, and it’s so big all of the inner planets can fit inside it and roll around easily.  It also has giant storms.

I mean giant storms.  All the colors we see when we look at Jupiter are giant chemical storms that would destroy us in a heartbeat if we were on that surface, so we needed to study clouds first (see what I mean about nothing going right).

Jupiter lesson for kids

We took what we learned from watching videos of people successfully forming clouds and then transferred that to wind storms.  Here in our part of Texas, we get some pretty fierce wind storms, but not tornadoes too frequently.  So we knew how wind can blow clouds around and make it all confusing.

Then for the grand demonstration, I pulled out the tornado tube*, and some red food dye (after all Jupiter’s giant storm is red).

Jupiter science lesson

And we observed how a tornado works.  It’s much bigger at the top than it is at the bottom.  So in theory, Jupiter’s giant red spot is much smaller at the surface of Jupiter.  It also has to be a violent storm that is continually being agitated because our tornado died down after a little bit, just like the ones here on Earth do.

And having taught the main points I wanted them to get out of it, I let the kids have fun playing around with the tornado tube and generally learning from exploring.  That all by itself can be worth it.

How We Teach Kindle cover

Oh, and if you’ve ever wondered how it is I come up with all of these crazy ideas, I’d highly suggest picking up a copy of “How We Teach*.”  It’s just out and I wrote a couple of the chapters in the book (including one on astronomy).  It’s only $6.99 and I know there’s something in this book to help your homeschool day go well.

Jupiter's Red Spot science lesson astronomy 4th


8 responses to “Jupiter science lesson”

  1. This is a fun lesson! It’s hard to imagine how big the storms on Jupiter must be. I keep toying with the idea of getting a tornado tube 🙂

    1. According to our astronomy textbook, the storm’s diameter is bigger than the diameter of Earth!

      Phyllis has a whole bunch of really great ideas for using a tornado tube, that I’m looking forward to trying out.

  2. Tornado tubes are so much fun! I need to find ours…

    1. I’ve left ours attached to the 2 liter bottle with strict instructions NOT to throw it out. So far that has worked.

  3. Don’t lose hope. We all go through these periods with science demonstrations. I just am not brave enough to post about them. LOL I like your approach to this study.

    1. It was a really fun approach, and then it extended over to the other gas giants because we could keep referring back to it.

  4. You know, I’ve never tried a tornado tube, I’ll have to pick one up. This is a fun approach to learn about planets.

    1. It’s been really fun, the later planets it’s been quite a bit of writing as it’s more of comparing and contrasting things, but that’s been good for my writing averse kids.

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