Mysteries of the Universe Group Guide

Volume IX, Number II

Artwork by Amy Liu

In this issue, KidSpirit contributors delve into the mysteries beyond our grasp. From light years across the cosmos to the depths of our own minds, journey with them to the farthest reaches of the unknown as they embrace the questions that shape our lives. Is the human race alone in the universe? What lies beyond the stars? How can we come to understand our deepest fears, passions, and potential? Let these brave contributors’ queries inspire you to explore tangible and intangible wonders all around you.

1. Sharon Lin responds to the editors’ Big Question on this theme: “Why Do We Seek to Learn More About Our Universe?” In her article, she considers the many reasons humans have sought knowledge over the course of history. “At the birth of humanity,” she writes, “when we lived as primal hunter-gatherers, forced to fend for ourselves against an unknown world, our sole means of survival was through trial and error — essentially, discovering the rules governing our universe on our own.” Can you recall a time you had to learn about your surroundings in order to thrive? How did facing the unknown make you feel? How did you go about discovering what you needed to know? Has the experience impacted your approach to the unfamiliar more broadly? Why or why not?

2. In his Awesome Moments article “A Rainy Day at Camp,” Daniel Goetz experiences the difficulty and triumph of canoeing and hiking through the wilderness for the first time. Read his piece and consider something you’ve done that seemed frightening at first. Did you think you would be able to take on the challenge of a new experience? What did you learn about yourself from venturing into the unknown? Write down three things that surprised you about your experience, then share these observations with your neighbor and listen to his or hers. Do your friend’s revelations reveal anything you didn’t expect?

3. “When you are born, you become a citizen of the universe. It behooves you to look around, and get curious about your surroundings,” writes Dr. J. Richard Gott, renowned astrophysicist and PerSpectives contributor for this issue. He goes on to share many awe-inspiring facts about the cosmos. Consider his research and think about your own desire to explore the world around you. What are your questions about the universe and our place in it? How do you think these queries can be answered? Choose one question to share with the group. What do the group’s questions, as a whole, indicate about our drive and ability to explain the mysterious phenomena surrounding us?