Exploring the Universe: Nebula Spin Art

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this activity, participants will learn about how gigantic clouds of gas and dust in space, called nebulas, are formed. They'll create their own colorful model nebula using paint and a spinner. Because of the unique quantities and locations of the materials and the forces that spread them out, each model nebula will be unique—just like each real nebula! Activity includes a facilitation guide with potential misconceptions, Earth & space science infosheets with NASA connections, table sign, activity & content training videos, and an original nebula poster. All public-facing materials also available in Spanish.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Model

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • Neon tempera paints
  • Small squeeze bottles (1 for each color)
  • Black construction paper circles
  • 2 OXO Good Grips salad spinners
  • Gel pens
  • Activity and facilitator guides
  • Information sheets (see activity webpage for links)
  • Tips for Leading Hands-on Activities
  • Optional: paper towels and old newsprint or brown paper table covering to contain mess


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Origins of Universe
      • Stars and Galaxies
    • Solar System
      • Origin of Solar System
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts


Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • NISE Network


Funding Sources:

  • NASA, NNX10AE05G
  • NASA, 80NSSC18M0061