I’ve got a backlog of science lessons I’m working through, and we actually completed our Venus lesson over a month ago as we worked through our astronomy lessons. And like with my volcano lesson, our Venus activities just didn’t feel like they went right originally.
Venus is a volcano planet, so Venus lessons are volcano based
There’s not a lot we know about Venus because of its location and because of its atmosphere. We’ve sent several probes to Venus, but the probes are pretty much all destroyed upon going into the atmosphere because of its corrosive qualities.
We know Venus has lots of volcanoes, and this knowledge was convenient because we were studying volcanoes in our earth science at the time.
So for that part of our Venus activities head over to the volcano lesson post and marvel at how many ways you can make a volcano and how many ways our attempts went wrong. Seriously, wrong in so many ways.
Venus lesson: radar mapping
You know what did work? More or less…. Our radar mapping.
Supplies: empty box (I used a plastic shoe box lined with tissue paper so I could still use it afterwards), markers (I highly recommend this set of Pip-Squeaks Marker Tower, as the markers dry out I buy new ones and put them in),Bamboo Skewers, graph paper (Astronomy Notebooking Journal has one included for the Venus lesson if you are getting that), Plaster of Paris (I’ve started buying this in bulk after the Roman frescoes and our other projects in that vein), White Tissue Paper (you probably could use colored, but white works better).
Setup on the Radar activity before kids are involved:
- Pour a bunch of plaster of paris into your box. The more you pour in the better your activity (more on that in my what I learned notes). Make it as varied as possible, add high mountains and deep valleys.
- On your white tissue paper draw a grid and number it. Preferably make the squares uniform in size.
- Color your bamboo skewer with different colored bands at a pre-measured distance. I did half-inch measuring.
- Tape the tissue paper grid over the box so they can’t see what is inside.
Explanation of our Venus activity (without this you’re just letting your kids play with sharp pointy things)
Because of Venus’ atmosphere we cannot see the planet’s surface. If we look down all we see is a fog in perpetual motion. So we’ve used radar to measure Venus’ surface and created a map to see what it is like. That is what we are going to do today. This will let us make a map of our “Venus surface.”
- Let your kids take turns poking the bamboo skewer straight down in the middle of the square to see how deep it goes. (straight up and down is very important).
- Record what is the first color showing outside of the tissue paper on your graph paper.
- Continue doing this for each of the squares on your “planet Venus.”
What we learned from this Venus activity
- Measurement is very important. Their answers were wildly different dependent on how they poked the skewer through the tissue paper.
- It’s a tricky job to measure things with radar. You had to get the measurements right, you had to keep straight what area you were measuring, and you could sometimes force your way through an air bubble and mess up the readings.
- I learned I shouldn’t have used a leftover batch of plaster. We didn’t have enough differentiation, so the measuring was rather boring for creating our map.
- I’d also say I should have made much smaller squares to get more accurate map.
Overall though it’s made for an interesting astronomy study. I’m going to go ahead and publish this post, but later today I’ll come back with some suggestions of some more Venus activities.