Have you ever wondered why spacesuits are so bulky? It’s clear that spacesuits aren’t a fashion statement, but they’re a vital “accessory” to an astronaut’s survival in space. Learn more about spacesuits and how they protect their wearers in this fun, DIY activity!
- Plastic Frame (or basket)
- Drinking Straw (single use, metal or glass)
- Tissue Paper
- Popcorn Kernel
- Goggles (or other protective eyewear)
Start out by taking a single piece of tissue paper and taping it to the front of your plastic frame or basket. Take your kernel and drop it so that it hits your single layer of tissue paper. Note how it easily rips through or damages the paper. Now, replace that damaged tissue paper with two new layers. This time, use your drinking straw as a “shooter” to “launch” your kernel at your reinforced paper shield. Continue with more tissue paper and varying distances to test how strong you can make your barrier against the kernels.
The kernel represents a micrometeoroid—a tiny piece of space debris. These tiny fragments of rock move through the emptiness of space at great speeds, posing a great danger to astronauts. This debris can be made out of other, larger meteorites or even what’s called “space junk”—old, broken satellites and debris from space launches—that are forever floating in the vacuum of space. When an astronaut is out of the spacecraft, the only thing between them and all those objects is their trusty spacesuit which must have several layers in order to properly protect them from harm.
- Wear Goggles to protect your eyes when “launching” your kernels.
- Caution small astronauts against inhaling through the straws when kernels are present.
- Astronaut suits have come a long way through the years! Learn more about how they have evolved here.
- Check out our Moonwalk exhibit in Space Chase to explore space and rocket science just like a real astronaut!
- BLAST OFF all August at the science center with daily live science demonstrations and out-of-this-world Sudekum Planetarium shows!