Explore Outer Space With DIY Solar System, Our Newest Science App!

September 6, 2023

What’s it like to pilot a robotic rover on another planet? What would it take to design and build a base on the Moon? Explore Mars, Jupiter, the Moon, and the other planets and celestial bodies of our Solar System with DIY Solar System, the latest grant-funded collaboration from The Lawrence and the National Informal STEM Education (NISE) Network! This free app available for Apple iOS is jam-packed with activities to prepare you for your next journey into space.

“DIY Solar System is an example of the power of the NISE Network.”

Darrell Porcello, Ph.D

With 11 different activities, you can explore the solar system with your kids from anywhere, anytime! Learn about space travel, living in space, and the unique objects that make up the planetary system we call home. In these activities, you and your family can prepare your own space food, grow a space garden, or learn how astronauts conserve water—all with step-by-step instructions and using low-cost materials.

Another DIY Solar System feature, “Augmented Reality Planet Walk,” lets you drop a scale model of the solar system in your yard or other outdoor space. Walk between each of the planets in our solar system, stopping along the way to learn and explore up close using NASA’s images of the planets. Finally, test your knowledge with the “In or Out Game,” which shows photos of celestial objects and asks whether they are in or outside of our Solar System.

The app’s content was developed by educators experienced in creating engaging learning activities and expert scientists with extensive knowledge of outer space and our solar system. They drew from their previous work developing activity tool kits shared with over 350 museums and science centers across the country. The Lawrence and our partners at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) have been key members of the toolkit development team at NISE Network for many years leading up to the creation of DIY Solar System. 

“We used methods that have been evaluated with kids and families and proven to be successful,” said Darrell Porcello, Ph.D., Senior Project Manager at The Lawrence. “Educators tested activities with their local audiences during the development process, and professional educational evaluators worked with the team to examine app prototypes with public audiences at the Science Museum of Minnesota.”

In addition, The Lawrence developed several other fun educational apps encouraging science learning beyond the walls of the museum. Discover the power of the sun in DIY Sun Science, explore the wonders of human biology in DIY Human Body, and much more! Visit our Science Apps page for a full list of our apps.

A screenshot from DIY Solar System on iOS

A NASA grant to the Sciencenter in Ithaca, NY, funded work on DIY Solar System and a new toolkit of hands-on activities based on NASA’s continuing pursuit of human exploration of the Moon. Partner museums and science centers on the project used their experience within the NISE Network—a nationwide collaborative community of informal educators—to develop, refine, and share the resulting educational products.

“DIY Solar System is an example of the power of the network,” said Darrell Porcello, who worked on the app for the Children’s Creativity Museum and The Lawrence. “Development of app activities and NASA content was sparked by a partnership across the Children’s Creativity Museum, Sciencenter, the Museum of Life and Science, and The Lawrence.”

We’re excited to share these outstanding outer space activities with your young astronauts and astronomers. With DIY Solar System, we hope you and your family will discover the excitement of human space travel and bring science learning home with you. Click here to download DIY Solar System, available on Apple iOS devices.

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