PBS KIDS and Scratch Jr logos

Space Exploration

Create an adventure with READY JET GO!

Overview

Excelsior! Inspired by READY JET GO!, in this activity children will be challenged to use PBS KIDS ScratchJr to create projects where they blast off and explore our solar system. 

Learning Goals

Children will learn how to use the PBS KIDS ScratchJr programming blocks to make animated stories and interactive projects. They will explore coding and computational thinking practices as they utilize technology as a tool for creativity, expression and learning with the PBS KIDS ScratchJr app.

Keywords

  • Programming/Coding
  • Sequence/Algorithm
  • Events
  • Solar System

Materials

  • iPads or Android tablets for each child (or group of children)
  • The READY JET GO! “Tour of the Solar System,” episode (see below)
  • TV, projector, computer, or other device to play the episode
  • A document camera to display tablet work to the whole group or a cable to connect the tablet and projector
  • Chalkboard, whiteboard, or poster paper for brainstorming 
  • Design Handouts
  • Parent Handout (English | Spanish)

Getting Started (5 minutes)

The context in which you are engaging in this activity will impact how you get started. Take the time to set-up cues, preview what you’re going to be doing and why, and to get the kids ready and focused for a fun and creative PBS KIDS challenge.

Today children will be creating PBS KIDS ScratchJr projects that take them to any planet in our solar system. Ask the group if they can name all of the planets in our solar system. Help fill in any blanks if they get stuck.

Ask a focusing question and have each child answer: What is one fact you know about space?

Play (10 minutes)

Play a special space version of the game, ‘Red Light, Green Light,’ where the group travels to all of the planets in our solar system. 

The goal of the game is to travel through our solar system starting at the Sun.

  • For the first round, the Sun is the starting line and Mercury is the finish line.
    • Green light = kids can walk quickly.
    • Yellow light = kids can walk slowly.
    • Red light = kids have to freeze in place.
  • Once one child makes it to Mercury, play another round traveling from Mercury to Venus. Continue your tour through our solar system as long as time permits.

Explore (20 minutes)

Use a projector to model the features outlined below that will help the group with their projects. Additionally give them some free time to openly explore the app. See the PEG + CAT – Tree Problem Activity to learn how to add characters and backgrounds and how to use the Motion blocks.

Watch (15 minutes)

View the 11-minute READY JET GO! episode, “Tour of the Solar System,” and have everyone pay attention to the different planets in our solar system and what makes each of them special. After the episode, discuss which planets they remember Jet and his friends visiting and any special facts about those planets. Capture this discussion on the board.

Create (30 minutes)

Now it’s time for everyone to make their own space projects! Make sure everyone has a tablet to work on and make yourself available to lend support as everyone works on their projects.

The Challenge

Have everyone choose one of the planets in our solar system and program Jet and his friends blasting off from Earth to visit that planet.

  • Encourage the use of multiple pages for this project. 
  • Encourage everyone to use the Motion and Speed blocks for their space travel. When would the rocket go fast, slow, and medium speeds?
  • Encourage everyone to use the Say and/or Sounds blocks to add fun space facts to their projects.
  • Encourage everyone to program their rocket/saucer take-off when it is tapped on.

This project is also a wonderful opportunity to focus on making sure projects include a beginning, middle, and end. Using the Design Handouts you can have everyone spend some time planning how they want their project to start, what will happen during their project, and how they want it to end. If anyone gets stuck, encourage them to ask each other for help.



Make it simpler

Focus on creating a one-page project with a rocket that moves through space.

Share (15 minutes)

Have volunteers share their space projects with the group. Have them present both their animations and the blocks they used to create their programs. Model and encourage the group to ask questions and to give and receive both warm and cool feedback.  

Based on which planets children created projects for, you can also set their tablets up in solar system order and have everyone take a tour of the solar system by walking around the class and checking out each other’s projects. This is a fun way to further reinforce the planets and their order.

Keep Going (10 minutes)

Take Home

Send children home with this Parent Handout (English | Spanish) to help encourage discussion and continued play at home! 

For more videos and games featuring Jet and his friends
Visit the READY JET GO! website