#5 Exploring the Universe!

Are you ready to crack the code to Rocket Science and plan your trip to the Galaxy?!

Join us to learn more about Rockets, the Solar System and the Universe!

What did Mars say to Saturn? Give me a ring sometime!

Did you not get the joke? Don’t worry! We are here to help you brush up on your Computer Language skills!

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If you are not familiar with the activities, please take the time to review the instructions for an optimal learning experience:

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In Activity #1 The Language of Computers Zac found an old computer in the attic of their house. His mom, Dottie helped him to communicate with the computer in Binary.

In Activity #2 Secret Messaged Disclosed they got some strange messages from the computer. They used a Caesar Cipher and Vigenére square to decode them.

In Activity #3 Navigating the World they realised that the message was geographic coordinates pointing to a pretty interesting location. Join us to discover more about it!

In Activity #4 Ready for take-off? Dottie and Zac met Alberto on their way to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. They stopped by at Kennedy Space Centre, but got in trouble for flying a drone!

mission #5
Design your rocket and plan your trip to outer space!

Enjoy learning more about the your trip through the Galaxy.


At the police station…

Officer Clerke: I see that you were using a drone in a forbidden area?

Alberto: I am so sorry, it is all my fault! Zac was only helping me set up my new drone. You can take the drone or take me, just leave them go!

Dottie: Calm down Alberto, we are in this together! Officer,  they did not know this was a forbidden area for flying drones. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have let them unattended… I thought they needed some fresh air after a long trip. 

Zac: We came all the way from Houston, Texas. We were sent here to complete a very important mission linked to NASA! 

Officer Clerke: Hmm, tell me more about that?!

Dottie: Cutting a long story short: we found an old computer in the attic of our new house and it sent the location to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. We thought it must be connected to NASA and we should give it back to them!

Officer Clerke: Interesting, I have a friend works as an Engineer there. I am sure she would like to check the computer. I will give her a call and see she is free to meet us. 

Officer Clerke leaves to make a phone call…

Alberto: Holy Guacamole, is that for real? 

Zac: Yes, that is right Alberto, we forgot to tell you the whole story. Just be quiet not to get us in trouble!

Alberto: I am sure I am in an American movie! Oh my, I see the hidden camera on the wall… I forgot to put on my fancy sombrero!

Officer Clerke: You are in luck! Mary can meet us soon, so let’s get moving. 

They leave the Police Station and get to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Officer Clerke: My friend said something came up, but she will meet you here soon. I will meet you later. 

Officer Clerke leaves.

Alberto: I am so confused, does this mean we are not in trouble anymore? I thought this was the end of the movie and my American dream! I am so sorry about this situation.
Mom: Hopefully, we will be fine, just don’t bring up the topic Alberto. This is not a movie Albert, that is only a security camera. If anything this actually helped us to get to talk to someone in NASA, so that is a big win!

Zac: That is true and look at this place: so many rockets everywhere. I would love to work here! 

Alberto: And I would love to live by the beach! Zac, mira (look), there is a sign there saying they are hiring new astronauts, maybe you could apply and get a job here!

Zac: Wow, that would be wonderful!!! I better start preparing, the earlier the better. Mom, can you teach me more about rockets and help me prepare for the job interview?!

Mom: Sure! After learning more about rockets, you can take a few tests to see how you are progressing. So let’s get started preparing for the astronaut job interview now!



Find out how the components of a rocket work together to transport materials to space!

This video by ScienceABC gives us a great overview rockets.

Rocket science doesn’t seem that complicated, right?! Use the application below to learn more about the components of the rocket. 

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Rocket Parts

Payload system
Guidance system
Structural system
Nose cone - Body - Fins
Propulsion system
Chamber - Fuel - Oxidiser - Pumps - Nozzle

Are you ready to test your rocket knowledge?! Let’s start completing the first test for the job interview. Getting a job as an Astronaut at NASA is no easy feat, but you can do it!

TEST 1: theoretical knowledge!

activity sheet

You are given a rocket specification sheet missing a lot of information, your job is to fill out the blanks on Page 1 to test your knowledge.

Use the application above to check your how many you got right! 

TEST 2: rocket design software expertise! 

Design your own rocket and launch it using this application by PBS kids, did your rocket work? Once you are happy with your design you can move on to the next test. You can go back to the game later to visit more planets.

Phase 3: rocket fabrication expertise!

Now that you got some experience designing rockets, it is time to get some experience building rockets and testing them to see if they really work! 

We understand you may not have the proper materials for building a rocket at home, so here is how you can assemble a very simple prototype!

A paper rocket is a rocket in appearance only, because it doesn’t use a rocket engine to create thrust. It is powered by the push of air from your blow, so it uses air movement instead of a proper rocket engine. This basically means that YOU are the engine!!! 

P.S.: Other machines such as sailing ships and wind turbines also use air as a power source, can you think of another?!

activity sheet

Build two different rockets by changing their size. Complete the tasks on Page 2 to compare their performance and try launching them in different ways to understand how that influences the results.

If you are up for a challenge, go ahead and do some research on how you could make a better rocket. You could try different materials and types of propellers – for example, you could use vinegar and baking soda instead of air.

Check out this video by National Geographic about how space travel has evolved over the years.

Key Point

The word rocket is used to refer to a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other any other vehicle that obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In the context of space exploration, rockets are build to get the payload to space.


Officer Clerke and her engineer friend, Mary, enter the room…

Officer Clerke: Mary, this is Zac, Alberto and Dottie. They have the computer I was talking about. 

Mary: Interesting, so you found this in your house? 

Dottie: Yes, it was not easy to access the information in it because we didn’t know the username and password. However, we managed to answer the security question correctly. Then, it sent us an encrypted message with this location. 

Zac: We needed to use a Caesar Cipher and a Vigenère Square to find this out. We thought it was worth bring it here for investigation. This does not seem like an ordinary old computer. 

Mary: Interesting, I have a good starting point for the investigation. Given its appearance and that it was in Houston, where our mission control and astronaut training facilities are, I could guess it could have belonged to an astronaut or to someone on the mission control team lead by Chris Kraft. 

Zac: Wow, really?! That is wonderful! But it sounds like it will take some time to investigate that. 

Mary: Yes, I would say a good few weeks. But, you can leave it with me and I will get back to you then.

Zac: Yeah, that is fine. It would be great if you could let us know, we are very curious to know who owned this computer!

Alberto: Does that mean I am not going to jail?!

Officer Clerke: Well, I can clearly see that you are nice people wishing to help the country. I will just delete the footage from your drone and you just promise me you won’t do it again?!

Alberto: Si, Si!  Yes, I will not do this again, lesson learnt!

Dottie, Zac and Albert leave NASA… 

Zac: Mom, we just wanted so say are sorry about the drone even though everything turned out fine. And I have more time to prepare for my job interview when we are back here for the computer.

Mom: That is okay, you didn’t know that it was a forbidden area. We are lucky Officer Clerke was a fair woman and even helped us. What a great coincidence she knew Mary!

Let’s get back to your astronaut job interview preparation now. 


space exploration

You will learn more about humankind’s greatest achievements in exploring space!

Phase 4: Space Exploration Historical Knowledge

We loved this video about the History of Space Exploration. It is truly inspiring and a great way to see how much we have evolved! After watching the video, we challenge you to check how much you actually can remember from it using the activity sheet!

Hint: There is a lot of information in the video. So, we would recommend that you pause to properly process the information in the photo and read the description.

Very inspiring right? The most exciting part for us is that we believe you guys can contribute to this in the future. It is great that you have started preparing for it!

activity sheet

You will find cards for the main achievements in space exploration on Page 3. Cut them out and organise them in the timeline on Pages 4-6. Glue the bottom of one page to the top of the next to create the humankind’s achievements in space exploration timeline!

If you don’t have a printer at home or prefer not to print out so many pages, you could just use parchment paper from the kitchen to recreate the timeline. 

Phase 4: space Knowledge

Now that you learnt so much about rockets and space travel, what about starting planning your very own trip to the galaxy? 

First, you will need to learn some new vocabulary to refer to the places. Then you can learn more about the top destinations in the Solar System – our galactic neighbourhood in the universe. Let’s start preparing for your trip!

activity sheet

Brush up on our space vocabulary by playing word search on Page 7! Come back here to fill out the missing information on Page 8 using the application below.

Check out the application below by Solar System Scope and enjoy learning more about planets, stars, galaxies, constellations and everything in the universe.

Instructions for navigation

Here are the steps to explore this interactive map:

  1. Click the magnifying glass on the left.
  2. Select the object you want to see.
  3. Click ‘Explore’ on the right.
  4. Click ‘Visit’ on the left. Now you can check some information in ‘Encyclopedia’ and ‘Structure’, you can also check out the planet’s moons by clicking ‘Planetary System’.

To travel to the next attraction, hide the pane by clicking the arrow and use the magnifying glass again and follow the steps above.

Key Point

Space exploration has greatly contributed to technological advances which we all benefit from on a daily basis. Check out a few of them here!

If you are serious about your job application you will enjoy this insightful TED talk by astronaut Cady Coleman where she shares details of what it is like to live in the International Space Station (ISS)!

Pretty interesting, right?! Just when I was getting over the short supply of chocolate, recycled urine made me reconsider my travel plans! 😂 Would you live in space?


Zac: I really loved learning more about rockets and space, I think I found my passion in life! The only bummer is that we still haven’t discovered who owned the computer. I was so looking forward to finding that out!

Mom: Good things take time and effort. We have made some huge progress! In the meantime, you could do some research on the astronauts and mission control engineers that worked there. This way you would actually know who Mary is talking about when the time comes. You could also make your own predictions!
Zac: Yeah, that is great idea! I am sure you won’t even see time passing as the job interview preparation will keep you very busy. Thank you so much for making this my best birthday mom and Alberto. The trip to Cape Canaveral was such a fun adventure!

Alberto: No problema, I must thank you bringing me along and helping me. I am delighted to have met you, you are the nicest american family ever. But way, does this mean this is the end of our american movie?! Will I ever see you again?

Dottie: We loved having you, but this is not a movie Alberto… and I see you guys got along very well, so I thought that if you wanted you could stay with us back home in Texas until we come back here for the computer. We live in the countryside and have a huge garden that you would enjoy. 

Alberto: Really?! That would be wonderful, I can’t believe I have an American family! Thank you so much for adopting me. We should have some cake to celebrate Zac’s birthday and my adoption. Zac, get to make a wish when you blow the candles!

Zac: Wow, that sounds great, I am thrilled! I cannot wait to show you around our neighborhood and go on fun adventures together. I already know what my birthday wish will be: to become an astronaut!

Check out this fun game by the European Space Agency (ESA) we think you would enjoy playing it. You can explore the Solar System while piloting your spacecraft through some obstacles. Enjoy it!

Also, if you want to learn more about rockets, we suggest that you watch the two documentaries below. We hope you enjoy watching them as much as we did!

WELL DONE and thanks for participating!

👏Well done in completing all missions. We hope you have enjoyed the activities and learnt lots about technology, robots and astronomy!👏

🙏 Support us by letting your friends know about SMART Edu Challenge using the buttons below! 

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👇Comment below to let us know you finished the SMART Edu Challenge! Which was your favourite activity and why?👇

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We are thrilled that you have finished our SMART Edu Challenge

We hope to continue offering great learning experiences like this.

4 thoughts on “#5 Exploring the Universe!”

  1. Ivan O Riordan

    Fantastic challenge, kept my boys totally engaged and has sparked a massive interest in space exploration. Building our own rockets was great fun.
    We would love more activities like this, my boys have learnt so much over the 5 challenges.

    1. smarteduclub

      We are delighted to hear that Ivan! Thank you so much for your participation and valuable feedback. We are working hard to create more activities for the kids.

  2. Kesja & Jonatan

    Hard to choose which activity was favorite. For Jonatan (13) it was the one about robots and drones since his dream is to become a robocisist. And for Kesja (11) the one about binary language. Wonderful activities! Well done! Agata, the mom… 😉

    1. smarteduclub

      Wonderful to hear that. Well done to you in participating and learning so much! We are truly delighted to have you.

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