DIY Dry-Erase Space Race

After watching the SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule Endeavour launch your family is probably excited about all things space! Here is a fun activity for space-enthusiasts of all ages: Dry-Erase Space Races!

Activity Age: 1 and up
Activity Set-Up Time: 2 minutes
Activity Clean-Up Time: 2 minutes

Materials:
1 plate with a smooth shiny surface (something like a ceramic dinner plate)
Dry Erase Markers (try this with a few different colors)
Water
Spoon
Straw

Instructions
1. Draw a small (approximately 1 inch) spacecraft near one edge of the plate using dry-erase markers making sure to color it in fully. Try a few different designs about 2-3 inches apart.
2. Once your design is dry use a spoon to gently add water next to your spacecraft to slowly submerge the designs
3. Watch your designs float to the top of the water and you are ready for launch!
4. Blow through a straw to direct your air and race the spacecraft across the plate!

Draw your spacecraft using dry-erase markers
Gently flood the plate with water
Watch your spacecraft take flight!

You can try some of these ideas:
-Draw the International Space Station on one side of the plate and race your designs to see which one can dock at the designated location just like the Crew Dragon Capsule
-Use different colors and make some observations about which color marker works best for your activity and why you think that
-Make a spacecraft design using multiple colors and observe if that affects how it travels
-Try a spacecraft design that is not colored in fully and observe how you have to race it so it does not fall apart
-Have two people design rockets on opposite sides of the plate and see who can make it across the plate first

Why does this work? Dry-erase markers are made of three main components: a solvent; pigment, or color, that dissolves into the solvent; and a silicone polymer, which helps the color stick together but also not stick to the surface. When you write with a dry-erase marker the solvent quickly evaporates and leaves behind the pigment and the silicone polymer which does not dissolve in water. What is left of the marker is less dense than water so when water slowly floods the design it floats right to the top!

Did you enjoy this activity? Please let us know and send an e-mail to us at info@ccssc.org. We would love to see your designs!