Comet Models (PDF)

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Hubble telescope image of Galaxy NGC 3310

ERN Item Type: 

  • Classroom Activities


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)


These model-building activities from NASA's Stardust mission educator's guide provide a "stellar" opportunity to teach middle level students about comets and how they form. In Cookin' Up a Comet, students and their teacher create a comet model from dry ice and other inexpensive materials (e.g., sand, cola, water, and ammonia), earning the basic parts of a comet and how its head and tail forms in the process. Afterward, students compare the model's parts to a comet's parts. The activity includes Reflection Questions. Similarly, in The Incredible Edible Comet, students learn about a comet's anatomy as they construct a model comet from ice cream (representing ice in a comet), crumpled candy bars (for silicon), finely chopped nuts (for the rock and dust within the comet nucleus), caramel syrup (for the organic molecules, such as simple sugars_, whipped topping (for a tail), and ginger ale (to represent carbon dioxide, one of the gases observed escaping from comets). This activity includes a Comet Fact Sheet and Reflection Questions.

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