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Space Science Experiment ~ Exploring one of Jupiter’s Moons

For the final day of our space week for storybook summer we are heading far out into our solar system and exploring one of Jupiter’s Moons with this fun Space Science Experiment for Kids. Space is such a fun topic to explore and through learning about the solar system, stars and moons you can explore other areas of science as well. Before we’ve explored the planets as part of the storybook summer and introduced density and now it’s time to explore that further with this Ganymede Science Experiment for Kids.

Simple science experiment to explore the formation of the layers of one of Jupiter's Moons

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I love to raid library rows with space books, but this week I have especially been in love with The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield. Chris is actually an astronaut, but when he was a boy he was afraid of the dark! I love the juxtaposition and the whole layout of the book! I also have been loving Pluto’s Secret by Margaret Weitekamp. It’s more of a non-fiction book, but the science-nerd in me cannot get enough cool facts about Pluto…plus, I remember when it lost its ranking as a planet, and I always felt a little bad for it, lol!

Anyway, these books have been a fantastic addition to our Science Week, and I am delighted to share them as part of the Storybook Summer! I developed this activity to help my kids learn some of the unique traits of Jupiter’s moons and to review the relationship between density and layers in a planet.

More Space Books We Recommend

We have included affiliate links to some of the products and resources as an associate we may earn from qualifying purchases.

Jupiter’s biggest moons were discovered 400 years ago by Galileo, and scientists still study them today!

Ganymede, the biggest moon, has an internal structure similar to the Earth: it has a core in the center, a mantle, and a crust. But, unlike the Earth, beneath the crust it has a huge salt water ocean AND the crust is actually made from of ice!

Why not use these Layers of the Earth Models to create a Ganymede Model as well.

Instructions and recipe to create a 3D model of the layers of the earth using salt dough. Easy to make and can be air dried over time to label and learn. Fun Earth Science lesson for kids.
Step-by-step instructions on how to create a needle felted layers of the earth model ideal for a teaching resource. Older kids would be able to use this simple technique to create it themselves or you can create to use as a model within your teaching and lessons.
Three dimensions layers of the earth section model to make - ideal for earth science, work out the scale and produce a representation of the different layers of the earth.

Layers of the Earth Cookies ~ Layers of the Earth Salt Dough Model ~ Needle Felted Layers of the Earth Model ~ 3D Layers of the Earth Sectional Model

This experiment gives kids a chance to explore density, talk about the layers of Ganymede, space, and more! We did the experiment as part of our Space Week…you can find more of our Space Unit Study here and our Space Theme for Preschoolers here!

Equipment needed for your Space Science Experiment

a beaker and another clear tall container – a science set like this one is ideal for kids and also this set

about 1/2 cup of rocks

about 1/2 cup of ice cubes

and water.

OPTIONAL – You could even add salt to the water to make it “ocean water!”

How to Explore the Laters of Ganymede with Kids

1- Pour the water into your beaker. This represents the ocean on Ganymede. It is bigger than all the water on Earth!

simple science experiment for kids to explore one of the moons of jupiter

2- Ask your kids if they think the rocks and ice will float or sink, then let them add rocks or ice and see if they were right! Talk about how on Ganymede the ice is at the top of the planet, so if we landed on the planet we would land on ice covering an ocean! At the bottom of the ocean is a layer of rock, and it stays layered just like the ice, water, and rocks in our experiment.

Ganymede space science experiment for kids

3- What would happen if we added the “ingredients” in a different order? Let your kids experiment!

exploring space through hands-on science experiments

We found that if you added all the ice, then all the rocks, and then all the water, the ice would be trapped under the rocks:

STEM investigation into Ganymede one of the moons of jupiter

But, when Ganymede formed the elements and fragments probably crashed into each other and stirred themselves constantly.

So we gave the mixture a stir…

hands-on science to explore space in the classroom or homeschool

…and the ice, water, and rocks separated out according to their densities!

All the planets and moons are layered from the densest at their cores to the least dense at their surfaces. Older kids can discuss density and its implications more, while younger kids are usually happy to find that ice floats and rocks sink. All ages like to play with the rocks and ice!

layers of density mimicking the layers found on Ganymede a moon around Jupiter

I hope you are loving this Space Theme! I would love to hear from you if you try this experiment!

Happy educating!!


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Carla Mae Jansen

Carla Mae Jansen is an educator, author, and mom who lives in Virginia, USA.

She loves going rock-hunting, eating chocolate, and exploring new places with her family.

She has a master’s degree in teaching science, and is always looking for something new to learn!

You can follow along with her publishing adventures at Turtle Trails Publishing.

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