Marianne J. Dyson

Science Workshops

Workshop at Cherry Hills, Colorado.
Cherry Hills (Colorado) Middle School Workshop

Invite Golden Kite and American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award winner and former NASA flight controller MARIANNE DYSON to share her enthusiasm for space and writing.

Space Science Workshop/Camp

Students role-play being astronauts during a simulated trip to the space station and Moon. They experience a launch, assemble a robotic hand, explore the Moon, and plan an investigation.

For camps, students also do interviews, record quotes and experimental data, and plot a story of their adventure. Science topics include gravity, biology, and the scientific method. Group size 12 (K-3) to 24 (4-8) plus 3 adult helpers. For supply lists and photos see Space Activities. Workshop takes 2-4 hours and can be designed as an all-day or multi-day space camp. K-8.

It takes about 4 hours (depending on number of activities) for a workshop and 7 hours for a "camp." (Younger children need more time for activities.) A large room with 3 work areas or three small rooms are needed for a workshop or camp. The first area is "Earth," the second is the "International Space Station," and the third is the "Moon." "Earth" requires one table, chairs for all students, a TV/VCR, and enough space for students to lie on the floor. The ISS room requires 3-5 tables with chairs and easy access to water, a washable floor, and a high ceiling (if used for camp). The "Moon" room requires 3-5 tables with chairs and a place to hang a large poster. A TV with DVD player is optional.

Out-of-This-World Workshop/Camp Stages

Phase 1: Prelaunch Briefing and Launch. Students are given assignments (pilots, engineers, doctors, etc.), formed into lunar expedition teams, given badges and "tools," and launched from Earth to the ISS. They lie on the floor with their feet up on chairs, so girls should wear shorts under skirts. Each student needs a pillow or coat for their head and 3 heavy textbooks to pile on their chests. Campers need measuring tapes or home-made one-foot paper rulers to wrap around their ankles. A TV/VCR is required for the launch video (supplied by the author). Workshop 40 minutes/Camp 60 minutes.

Phase 2: Space Station Lunar Prep. At the ISS, they assemble robotic hands. (Directions are in Space Station Science, but see notes and photos below.) After an overview of lunar geography, teams choose landing sites on the moon. Campers make a scale model of the Earth/moon system (directions in Home on the Moon) and build their rockets and launch them (see information below). Workshop 90 minutes/Camp 2 hours.

Phase 3: Lunar Exploration. Upon arrival at the moon, students weigh themselves. (Special scale provided by author.) They then go on a space walk and use the robotic hands to collect "rock" samples. Some "rocks" are used to make craters. (Directions are in Home on the Moon.) Campers test the force of impacts using eggs. (Directions in Space Station Science.) They will build rovers (directions in Home on the Moon) and take them exploring. Workshop 60 minutes/Camp 60 minutes.

Phase 4: Space Station Rest Stop. Students return to the ISS where they "test" their (edible) samples and enjoy a space drink. (Directions below.) Campers build a gravity detector (directions below) and weigh a weightless rat (directions in Space Station Science). Workshop 20 minutes/Camp 60 minutes.

Phase 5: Earth Return. Students pack their samples and fly back to Earth on the space shuttle. (Author provides landing video.) Students participate in a post-flight press conference and answer questions from reporters (author and teacher/parents). Campers write a science fiction story based on their experience. Workshop 40 minutes/Camp 2 hours.

Set-up and Clean-up require 15-30 minutes and are not included in the times above. Breaks are also not included. Therefore, rooms should be reserved for 4.5 hours for a workshop and 8 hours for a camp.

Please see my Author Visit Checklist prior to a scheduled presentation.

Book Sales

Hosts are encouraged to offer Dyson's books for sale in conjunction with their event. Please see Books for Author Visit for ordering information.


NOTE: Fees valid for 2013-14 school year. Discounts available for multiple bookings, referrals, and nonprofits.

$800/day for 4 presentations or 2 workshops. Travel expenses are in addition to this fee.

$500/half day for 2 presentations or 1 workshop. Travel expenses are in addition to this fee.

$300 for after school/evening/weekend presentation. Half price for public libraries and churches.

Ask about Skype interviews or Twitter/Facebook chats.

Expenses. Travel expenses are in addition to honorarium. Author will make accommodations. Hosts are responsible for presentation equipment and workshop supplies. Coordinate details with author.

Fill out (as much as you can) and email/fax/mail Appearance Agreement to:

Marianne Dyson
15443 Runswick Drive
Houston, Texas 77062
281.486.4747 (land line: no texting!)

To Book an Appearance, Contact: Marianne Dyson.

More Information

Columbia Quotes - Quotes from the Columbia crew, families, VIPs, kids, and an explanation of what happened.

Remember Columbia - photos & information.
- Space timeline, chapter stories (by Dyson, though no byline given), & teacher resources.

Marianne visits the new crew vehicle.
Marianne visits the new crew vehicle during a press workshop in July, 2011. - Astronaut bios and photos by name. - David Brin's list of materials for using science fiction in the classroom. - Enter contests, go on trips, support space via the Mars Society. - Look for a local chapter and join the National Space Society. - Find books, collectibles, interest groups, all kinds of space hobbies. - International Women's Air & Space Museum - Encyclopedia facts and photos about space vehicles, missions, people. - Fly on the Vomit Comet! NASA Student Flight Opportunities Program.
- Women in space information.

Nonfiction Book Reviews - children's space books reviewed for science accuracy.

Marianne shows Moon map during Illinois visit in 2004.
Marianne shows kids where the Apollo missions landed during a workshop in Illinois in 2004.

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