On Feb. 11, 2013 NASA updated their Mars Mission News page with an image of a unique formation captured by Mars rover Curiosity's main camera. To see the image and read their report on the NASA website click here.
To some people this formation resembled a door handle or a hood ornament. Take this opportunity to discuss space exploration with your homeschooler no matter what age they are. You can ask them what they think is up there in the night sky, what they think about the stars and planets and even raise the question if they think there could be life on another planet.
Show them the pictures of the formation the Mars rover Curiosity took and ask them what they think it could be before discussing what scientists have determined it to be. Scientist determined the formation to be just a unique shape in rock formed from the wind. NASA has some additional pictures of similarly formed rock formations from the wind that can be viewed here.
This lesson can be used as an exploration lesson where you let the child direct the course of the discussion by asking questions and finding answers. It could spark ideas and interest in a variety of areas of science from geology, to astronomy, meteorology or physics. Don't forget to take some time to discuss the Mars mission and what scientists are looking for. Scientists are looking for evidence to see if Mars was ever able to support life in the past. Mission details can be found here, on the NASA website.
If you have a specific focus for your lesson, try to direct the conversation in that direction, but don't disregard questions that take the conversation in another direction. Write down those questions for a future lesson and let your child know they are great questions and you'll address them during a lesson at another time because you are focusing on a certain topic right now.
People in the Omaha area can head over to the Mallory Kountze Planetarium at the University of Nebraska, Omaha to take a look at and learn about the planets and stars. There are public shows each month, or you can call and ask them if there is a specific time you can bring in a homeschooling group. The Strategic Air and Space Museum near Omaha, is also a great place for kids to get up close to some spacecrafts that have been used in space exploration.