Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon, on July 20, 1969. He and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin walked the moon for two hours and planted an American flag on lunar soil. Man on the moon was the culmination of the space race, which started when the Soviet Union sent the satellite Sputnik into orbit. Several activities can connect young students with learning about the moon, Neil Armstrong and other astronauts.
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Multimedia Presentation: Biography
Have students research the life of Neil Armstrong and present their findings. In addition to being the first person on the moon, Armstrong was on the first team to dock two space vehicles successfully. Students can include information about Armstrong's childhood, family, education and other elements of his career. Presentations can take the form of slideshows using Microsoft PowerPoint or interactive websites.
Take a Trip to the Moon
Your students can learn what it would be like to prepare for a trip to the moon. Help them make a list of the things astronauts would need (such as spacesuits, boots, food and drinks designed for zero gravity). You could help them design outfits that they might wear on the trip as astronauts. Then, have your students find out what Neil Armstrong needed in 1969, so they can compare and contrast what astronauts needed then as opposed to what they use in 2011. Students could design two kinds of outfits based on the different needs, or they could create a Venn diagram showing the similarities and differences.
News agencies have video feeds online from Neil Armstrong's journey on the moon (see Resources). Invite one of your students' ancestors who was alive in 1969 to come to class and share his memories of that day. Combine the video with the first-person narratives to give your students an idea of the impact of that moonwalk in 1969. Ask students to think about what space exploration milestone would be as ground-breaking today as the moonwalk was in 1969, and put their answers in a journal entry.
The Space Race
Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon punctuated the United States' decade-long effort to be the first to land a spacecraft there. Have students research the main events in the space race during the 1950s and 1960s, beginning with the Soviet launch of Sputnik 1 and continuing to detail the pioneering events in American and Soviet space exploration that led to Armstrong's landing. Ideas include the launching of Explorer 1, the first American satellite and the series of Luna missions by the Soviet Union that orbited the sun and mapped the moon. Students could present this as a series of news reports or as a timeline with illustrations.
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