Fun book discussion questions and activities you can do at home (or in a class), while you read The Secret Case of the Space Station Stowaways, developed by author Pat Monteith, NASA/JPL Outreach:
About the Book:
The Secret Case of the Space Station Stowaways (Galactic Academy of Science Series Book)
by Patricia Monteith
Mae and Clinton’s teenage mentor from the future, Selectra Volt, can only give them vague hints about what will occur. Their time travel takes them to visit space historian Steven Dick, ancient Chinese admiral Zheng He, Isaac Newton, Wernher von Braun, astronaut Sunita Williams, space sickness scholar Suzanne Nooij, and astronaut and asteroid scholar Ed Lu. When they learn that the malicious Dr. Gravitium is hunting asteroids, they have to come up with a plan and visit the space station to try and stop him before he destroys one, or maybe two, worlds. More info can be found here.
“Buckle up for a great space adventure on a Galactic Academy of Science secret mission! Travel in time from Ming China and Isaac Newton to the International Space Station, all the while learning about science and space. This is just the kind of story sure to capture young imaginations and inspire the next generation of explorers.” –Steven J. Dick, Former NASA Chief Historian
For Younger Students:
Make your own rocket with our PDF printout, some tape and straws. Download the file, along with instructions below:
- Space Station Rocket Blast Off (PDF File)
Downloadable Fact Sheet about the International Space Station:
You’ll probably want to check this file out, if you want to play some of our games & activities below:
- ISS-Facts (PDF File)
Elementary & Middle School Students – Space Station Stowaway Printable Games (PDF Files)
Enjoy doing Puzzles? Here are several puzzles about The Secret Case of the Space Station Stowaways:
Discussion questions for the book: The Secret Case of the Space Station Stowaways
Who was Buzz Aldrin and why do you think he was in Clinton’s dream?
- Before going to bed and getting up in the middle of the night puking, Clinton ate a pizza with mushrooms, anchovies and hot peppers. What’s the craziest thing you ever had on a pizza and have you ever had the same reaction?
- Why was Mae upset with Clinton when she learned he entered them in a competition where they would have to do a project about ants?
- If a friend brought over an ant farm to your house and it fell and the ants spilled out all over your kitchen floor, how do you think your parents would respond and how would you clean up the ants?
- When Selectra visited Mae and Clinton at Mae’s house as she was describing the new mission to them, why do you think Selectra was fading in and out?
- Why was Mae originally very concerned about a mission on the International Space Station when her goal in life was to become an astronaut?
- Why do you think Mae’s scrapbooks made her think fondly of her dad?
- Mae and Clinton are convinced that NASA Historian Stephen Dick is about to show them an alien in the freezer. Do you think we’ll ever discover alien life? If yes, what do you think they’ll look like? Describe how you think they’ll be different from us humans and draw a picture of one.
- Why do you think you never read about the Chinese Explorer Zheng He in the history books? Which Ming emperor of China do you think was better – the one who sent Zheng He around the world with his giant ships to distribute treasures to nearly 40 countries, or the emperor who become ruler after Zheng He’s death and banned all further expeditions?
- When Mae & Clinton went to visit Dr. Wernhervon Braun, several dozen people came to the Missile Agency where he was the director and held signs in protest against him. Do you think they were right to do this, why or why not?
- Wernher von Braun developed the first Saturn V Rocket which was 363 feet tall and weighed 6.2 million pounds. What else can you think of that’s the same height as, and what else can you think of that weighs as much as the Saturn V Rocket?
- Do you think it might be possible for someone who’s disabled (such as the student in the wheelchair who heard Astronaut Sunita William’s talk at Needham High School) to become an astronaut? Why or why not?
- When Sir Isaac Newton was forced to stay at his mother’s farm for two years in 1665 because of the plague,he discovered his three Laws of Motion. Which of his three Laws has to do with his discovery of gravity?
- When Mae and Clinton visited the Dutch researcher Suzanne Nooij, Suzanne tells Mae, “There is no correlation between getting sick in space and having motion sickness on Earth.” What does this mean?
- Mae agreed to participate in the centrifuge experiment. Would you agree to do the same thing?
- The astronauts on the International Space Station were confused about how Mae & Clinton could have stowed-away on the Space X Dragon space craft. What do you think their main concerns were about Mae & Clinton being in the Dragon for six hours or more? Do you think it would be possible for anyone to survive a trip from Earth to the ISS without having on a space suit? What do you think it’s like for an astronaut inside the ship when a rocket takes off?
- What was it that Dr. Gravitium had programmed the Robonaut to do, and why?
- Do you believe life can exist on an asteroid? Why or why not?
- Draw a picture of your favorite scene or part of the book.
Suggested Activities for The Secret Case of the Space Station Stowaways
- Ants in Space Experiment
Clinton tells Mae he entered them in a NASA science competition to do a project about ants. NASA did an actual experiment about ants aboard the ISS in 2014. You can find more information about this experiment and watch a video of the ants when they were on the ISS here: http://www.bioedonline.org/lessons-and-more/resource-collections/experiments-in-space/ants-in-space/
- Make Your Own Compass
Starting in 1424, Admiral Zheng He left China to deliver treasures to 40 other countries and continents including India, the Persian Gulf and even the east coast of Africa. Even that long ago, he was able to find his way to these continents and back to China for his seven trips, by using a compass. Find out how a compass works and how to make your own using a sewing needle, a magnet, a piece of cork and a small bowl of water. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqCiY7MAT2U
- Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion – Demonstrated in Space
Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Mae & Clinton were unsure how this would work when they got to the International Space Station. Watch Astronauts Mark VandeHei and Joe Acaba demonstrate how Newton’s Third Law works in microgravity, while there were on the International Space Station: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkVU-bj9bDk
- Saturn V Rocket Launch
The Saturn V was a rocket NASA originally built under the direction of Dr. Wernhervon Braun, to send people to the moon. A Heavy Lift Vehicle, it was the most powerful rocket that had ever flown successfully.Click here to watch an actual Saturn V Rocket launch with comments by Dr. von Braun, and to learn more about the rocket. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYzlLhinEeQ&feature=emb_logo
- Launch Your Own Rocket — in the House!
You can build your own air-powered mini-rocket with two straws, some tape, scissors and the cutout of Mae & Clinton on the attached sheet. If you were a real rocket engineer, you would want to experiment with different designs. Space Station Rocket Blast Off PDF
- Visit the International Space Station!
Google Earth is letting people explore the International Space Station using “Street View,” where you can explore 17 different modules of the space station including in 360̊ view. https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-71.0760298,-3157a,16580076.3262796d,35y,356h,0t,0r/data=Ci4SLBIgN2Y3ZTA1ZTg2Y2E1MTFlNzk5YzI1YjJmNTFhNjA3NTIiCG92ZXJ2aWV3?fbclid=IwAR2lZ7TwRp_h96ZMYyxvTNWaWpPq_j8Hsu3-OFGq7xvuiqxFbBtpNgW_e9U
- Looking at Earth from the ISS Cupola Window
Can you imagine what it might be like to look down on Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) Cupola Window from 250 miles above Earth? Scientists are always looking for new views of our planet to learn more about climate, the surface, the cycles, and how humans are impacting the planet. Go to the Windows on Earth website here: www.windowsonearth.org and look at photographs taken by astronauts from the ISS Cupola window.Select an image from the “Regions” section of the website to explore in more depth.Research the science and the location about the region or image content (types of cloud/weather, areas of the planet, landforms).
- Watch the ISS Fly Over Your House
It’s possible to watch the International Space Station pass overhead from several thousand worldwide locations. It is the third brightest object in the sky and is easy to spot without binoculars if you know when to look up and where. It looks like a fast-moving airplane, only much higher and traveling thousands of miles an hour faster so is only visible for a few minutes at a time. See the ISS for yourself using “Spot the Station” here: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov
- Make Your Own Craters, Like the Holes that are left When Asteroids Hit the Moon
Based on his experience looking out the Cupola Window at the surface of the Moon, Astronaut Ed Lu testified before Congress to explain how much damage an asteroid can do if it was to ever hit Earth. You can make your own craters like asteroids do — by using flour, sprinkles, cocoa powder and 3 different sizes of rocks at home, with these instructions from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yi51JARLtJs
- Did you Know – Facts about the ISS?
Find answers to these questions and more. When was the ISS built? How long did it take to build? How far about the Earth is it, and how fast does it fly? How big is the ISS? How many individuals and how many countries have spent time aboard it? (for clues & answers check out our ISS Facts PDF above)
SOLUTIONS: Teachers: for solutions to the above ISS Words Challenge, please reach us via the contact page above.
FOR MORE ACTIVITIES, DISCUSSION GUIDES AND LESSONS FOR OTHER G.A.S. BOOKS: Please visit our big GAS activities page here.
About the Author:
Author Pat Monteith is a NASA Ambassador. If you’d like Pat to do a Skype visit to your class, or help you with developing your own lesson plan around the Space Station Stowaways book, please reach out to her via our contact page above.