Kids Activities Science Science Experiments Solar System

Swirling Galaxy Science Project

Bring the wonder of outer space into your home with this fun swirling galaxy activity that shows kids how spiral galaxies get their shape.

Swirling Galaxy Science Project for Kids - this is such a fun, hands on science activity to help kids to learn about the solar system. Preschool, Kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade kids will all love this project!

I have always been fascinated by outer space. I love stargazing on a clear night, getting up in the wee hours to get a glimpse of meteor showers, and visiting the local observatory to see through their powerful telescope. These are things I have enjoyed since I was young. Now, I drag my own kids out to try and foster a love and appreciation of the vastness of space in them, as well.

One of my favorite websites to visit and browse is the NASA image gallery. This is a searchable database of official NASA photographs of everything from NASA spacecraft to deep space images from the Hubble Telescope. I gravitate toward the images of far away galaxies. This is one of my favorites.

hubble rose galaxy (1)

This is an image taken by the Hubble Telescope of distant, interacting galaxies called Arp 273. These spiral galaxies are so close together that the gravitational pull of the smaller galaxy, UGC 1813, has distorted the shape of the larger one, UGC 1810, so that it looks like a sort of rose.

Swirling Galaxy Science Project

Simple, fun, and beautiful Swirling Galaxy Science Project kids of all ages will love!
swirling galaxy supplies

To recreate the spinning of these spiral galaxies, grab a few simple supplies: colored paper, a hole punch, a quart jar filled about 2/3 with water, and a wooden spoon.

swirling galaxy stars

Punch 20-25 holes in various colors of paper. The resulting paper circles are your stars, planets, and space dust. Then, drop your celestial bodies into the water.

[video: swirling galaxy activity]

Carefully, stir the water and the paper circles in a swirling motion with the handle of the wooden spoon. Try to not push the paper under the water. You want the your space objects to float. When the paper starts swirling, stop stirring and quickly remove the spoon. Now, be amazed by your own swirling, spiral galaxy!

You should see some expansion of the paper circles as they move away from the center point. Keep trying this until you see a spiral form.

Spiral Galaxy Explained

Galaxies are huge groups of stars, gas, and dust held together by a gravitational force. Our own Milky Way galaxy is estimated to be made up of over 300 million stars and is 100,000 light years in diameter. Yet, there are known galaxies that are much, much larger. The Hercules A galaxy is 1.5 million light years in diameter!
The universe is so vast that we do not know how many galaxies actually exist. The Hubble Telescope has revealed over 100 billion galaxies, but that number is estimated to grow to over 200 billions as technology to discover them advances.
These billions of known galaxies can be separated into a few distinct types. The most common, and the one I think of when I picture a galaxy in my mind, is the spiral galaxy. Spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way, consist of a rotating center disc with spiraling arms extending out from the center of the galaxy. It is this rotation that we re-created in this activity!

Hands on Solar System Unit

  1. The Sun 
  2. The Moon & Astronauts
  3. Inner Planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars)
  4. Outer Planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune)
  5. Pluto, Asteroid Belt, Comets, and Stars

FREE Solar System Worksheets

100 Amazing Food Experiments for Kids - so many clever edible science projects for kids of all ages to explore chemistry, biology, physics, and earth science! #scienceexperiment #scienceproject #kidsactivities capillary-action-science-experiment-for-kids DIY Lava Lamp - super easy way to make your own lava lamp with simple things you have around your house. This homemade lava lamp is such a fun science project for kids of all ages to sneak in some summer learning. This science experiment is for toddlers, preschoolers, pre k, kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and kids of all ages at home, homeschool, summer camps, classroom, etc.

Science for Kids

Looking for lots more fun, science experiments for kids? You’ve GOT to try some of these outrageously fun science experiments for kids! We have so many fun, creative and easy science experiments for elementary age children:

This amazing color changing slime is going to blow your mind! This heat sensitive slime will actually change color as your kids touch it because it is heat sensitive! This is a super cool project for kids you MUST TRY! Must try summer activity for kids to add to their summer bucket list  Help kids learn about what is under their skin with this fun, interactive, and hands on human body project for kids from toddler, preschool, pre k, kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade students. This can be a simple life size human body project or use our free printable templates to add bones of the body, organ templates, and more. This engaging science project is EASY and LOW PREP too.  dying flowers science experiment

About the author

Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is the creative multi-tasking creator of 123 Homeschool 4 Me. As a busy homeschooling mother of six, she strives to create hands-on learning activities and worksheets that kids will love to make learning FUN! She has created over 1 million pages of printables to help teach kids ABCs, science, English grammar, history, math, and so much more! Beth is also the creator of 2 additional sites with even more educational activities and FREE printables - and

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