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During this trying time, UC San Diego Extension remains committed to helping you achieve your goals. In an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have moved this summer’s Sally Ride Science Junior Academy workshops online. These online STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) workshops for students entering 4th-12th grade will be conducted through virtual class meetings using the Zoom conferencing system and the learning platform Canvas.

Explore Space and Plan Your Own Space Mission


The lure of space exploration offers a powerful way to ignite students’ interest in science, technology and engineering. This class guides students on a tour of our solar system and beyond, and then lets them plan their own mission to a distant destination.

We will start by exploring our own planet and considering what we can observe about Earth from space. We will survey other planets in our solar system and discuss what we need to know about a planet before we go there. Students will learn about “galaxies far, far away” and get a sense of just how vast distances in space are. They will consider what we know about Earth-like planets around other Suns and imagine what form life might take there. Inspired by what they learn, students will plan their own exploratory mission to another planet and create a model of a spacecraft that could take them there. The class provides a base of knowledge to build on as students move ahead with studies in astronomy, Earth science, engineering and more.

What You Will Learn

  • Consider what we can observe about Earth from space and what we can we observe about space from Earth
  • Explore what it takes to send a rocket into space
  • Gain an understanding of how other planets in the solar system differ from ours
  • Examine what we need to know about a planet before traveling there
  • Learn about Earth-like planets around other stars, consider what it would be like to visit one and imagine what kind of life we might find there
  • Get a sense of the vast distances between bodies in space
  • Survey past and current space exploration missions
  • Choose a destination and plan their own space mission
  • Design and build a model spacecraft

Note: During the first week of Junior Academy, this class is shortened to four days because of the Fourth of July holiday. 

Return to the Sally Ride Science Junior Academy website here.

Course Number: PHYS-90005
Credit: 0.00 unit(s)