We are using Apologia for Astronomy this year. It's been a great curriculum to do with my oldest two. We started this course while we were in the States for two reasons. First, we lived in Houston and could go to NASA and let the kids learn about space exploration first hand. Second, we could actually see stars. Normally, there is a lovely gray afghan draped comfortably across our sky.
We are almost finished with the book and are rounding out the planets with the "Is Pluto a planet?" debate. We studied the different theories scientists have about the Kuiper Belt. This thing was only truly discovered in 1992. I was in high school folks. Just shows you that while science is good and helpful, let's just remember who gave all of these things their existence.
The funny thing about homeschooling is that I often don't know the answers to their questions. I'm not even sure I ever formally studied Astronomy. So when they ask me questions like "What kind of gases make up Neptune's atmosphere?", I use this as an opportunity to let them use their research skills. And then we learn together. I have loved this journey of learning Astronomy with them.
We made a cake with the orbits of several planets outlined in purple frosting. The M&M's are planets, the wafer is the sun, the wobbly elliptical orbit is Pluto's (this is part reason some scientists don't consider it a planet.), the sprinkles and broken M&M's on the outside are the Kuiper Belt. It's made up of lots of really cold rocks and satellites (the natural kind, not the NBC kind).
Some of Pluto's orbit includes the Kuiper Belt. So, we added the last bit of sprinkles and we finished with this:
Why does my 9 year old look 16 in this picture. I'm going to have to burn this one.
We had a blast. Then we cut it up and gave a bunch to neighbors.
Happy Kuiper Belt Day!