2017 National Science Teacher’s Association Outstanding Science Trade Book
On October 10, 2011 YouTube, Lenovo, International Space Station, Space Adventures, NASA, European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency jointly announced a world-wide student competition. Students were asked to post a video suggesting an experiment to be sent to the Space Station. Judged by scientist Stephen Hawking, 18-year-old Amr Mohamed of Alexandria, Egypt won with his suggestion that they send a jumping spider to space. Most spiders are passive spiders, just building a web and waiting for prey to come it them. Jumping spiders, by contrast, actively hunt by jumping on prey. The research question was this: what will happen when a jumping spider tries to hunt in a weightless environment?
Thus begins the adventure of Nefertiti, the Spidernaut. A Phiddipus johnsonii, or Johnson jumping spider was chosen because she was large enough to photograph well. Amr’s original hypotheses was that the jumping spider wouldn’t adapt to space and wouldn’t be able to eat. In 2012, Nefertitti clocked 100 days in space, during which time she circled Earth about 1584 times, traveling about 41,580,000 miles.
This is a story of change: through the dark and cold, in spite of being weightless and isolated, this amazing spider adapted and learned to hunt. She survived to return to Earth, where she had to re-adapt to Earth’s gravity. Nefertiti’s story of survival inspires hope that we, too, can adapt to a changing world.
Spot the International Space Station
When you read this story with kids, they are sure to ask more about the International Space Station (ISS). Here’s a great, free resource to use with your class. NASA provides this widget to help you keep track of the ISS. Get the widget here for your classroom’s website. Or you can sign up to be texted when the ISS is overhead.
COLORING PAGE: This site has a b/w drawing of a jumping spider that is a great coloring page.
- Archimedes Notebook
- National Space Society
- Kids Book Buzz
- The Musings of a Book Addict
- Guest Post on Authors for Earth Day
- Midwest Book Review
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
In her debut picture book, Columbian illustrator Valeria Tisnés, charms with her anatomically correct, yet exciting work. Her passion for accurate scientific illustrations is fueled by the textures and details she observes in nature and in animals.