AS01: Earth and Moon download
Learning Objective Software Level

This activity helps student recognize the far distances of space compared to the sizes of astronomical objects. (Most diagrams of the Earth-Moon system are far from being in true scale). Students can measure the true angle of the Moon as seen from the Earth, or use an expanded size scale to make it easier. The angular measure 'radians' is defined, and the 'small angle' approximation given.

Astronomy

grades 2-8, with extensions for more advanced students

Introducing the Activity Content

The activity requires a spool of string or twine, an Earth globe (preferably 8-12 inches in diameter), a small balloon (preferably round), and a protractor. Students create a true scale model of the Earth-Moon system, and can measure the Moon's angular size, then calculate it.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Position/Motion of Objects
  • Earth in the solar system
  • Changes in Earth and Sky

Specific Mathematics Content Standards

  • Understand Measurable Attributes
  • Analyze Characteristics
  • Compute Fluently
  • Make Connections
  • Mathematical Representations
Extending the Activity

Advanced students can do mathematical exercises, calculating the smallest and largest angle of the Moon as seen from Earth (the distance of the Earth from the Moon changes by 5%, so for the largest angular size use a distance decreased by 5%, and vice versa), and the largest and smallest angle of the Sun as seen from the Earth (the distance varies by 1.7%). When the Moon's size is not quite enough to cover the Sun, we get an annular eclipse instead of a total eclipse. Using the average values, is the Moon's angle bigger or smaller than the Sun? Find the apparent angle of Jupiter as seen from Earth. What is its minimum distance? (4.2 AU) Maximum distance? (6.2 AU, when it's on the far side of the Sun).

AS02: Colors of Light download
Learning Objective Software Level

This activity helps students learn that the electromagnetic spectrum has more colors than what appears. Students use a diffraction grating or prism to look at spectra of gases and lights. Higher level students can learn simple mathematics relating wavelength to frequency.

Astronomy

grades 5-12, but younger groups can enjoy observing spectra without doing the mathematics

Introducing the Activity Content

The activity requires a diffraction grating (either one on a slide or as special glasses) or a prism to view light from various sources. Most student will know that infrared is "heat" and that ultraviolet can give you sunburn, but they may not know about the other regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Students will learn that low frequency light is low energy and has long wavelengths; and that high frequency light is high energy and has short wavelengths. The calculations are a good time to introduce scientific notation.

Students should also then review the "All Sky" section of the "Astronomy Update" module of "Space Update" to view the sky in different wavelengths of light, both visible and invisible. How would the sky look different if you have infrared or ultraviolet vision?

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Properties of Matter, Motion and Forces
  • Understanding Science and Technology
  • Earth in the solar system
  • Origin and evolution of the solar system

Specific Mathematics Content Standards

  • Understand Measurable Attributes
  • Analyze Characteristics
  • Compute Fluently
  • Make Connections
  • Mathematical Representations

Extending the Activity

Advanced students can do mathematical exercises, calculating the frequency given the wavelength, and vice versa. For example, yellow light with a wavelength of 500 nM is what frequency? (answer: 600,000 GigaHertz = 600 TeraHertz). If a gamma ray has a wavelength of 5 nM, what is its frequency? (answer: 60,000 TeraHertz = 60 PetaHertz). They can also calculate the wavelength of various black bodies, given the Temperature, or the Temperature, given the wavelength. Students can then do Activity 3 - Sky in New Eyes or Activity 4 - The Most Distant Galaxies.

AS03: Sky in New Eyes download
Learning Objective Software Level

In this activity, the students compare sky maps observed in various wavelengths of light and attempt to draw conclusions using exploratory data analysis.

Astronomy

grades 5-12, but younger students can determine which images
show the galaxy and which don't

Introducing the Activity Content

Students should first do "the Colors of Light" activity to learn about spectroscopy. The images in the "allsky" section of Astronomy all map a complete spherical sky to an oval map, much as in a "Mollweide" image of Earth. The oval is used to reduce the distortion of the map (recall that a latitude-longitude map of Earth makes Greenland look very large). Instead of the Earth's equator running parallel to the long axis, the plane of the Milky Way is the main horizontal axis, with the center of our Galaxy (in the constellation Sagittarius) at the center of the image. Any image that shows a concentration along the horizontal axis, like the visible image shown, is light that primarily comes from our Milky Way galaxy. Any image that does not is either light from very far away (outside the galaxy) or very nearby.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Properties of Matter, Motion and Forces
  • Understanding Science and Technology
  • Changes in Earth and Sky
  • Origin and evolution of the Universe
  • Transfer of energy

Specific Mathematics Content Standards

  • Understand Measurable Attributes
  • Analyze Characteristics
  • Apply Transformations
  • Make Connections
Extending the Activity

Advanced students can compare the ultraviolet to the visible image. Stars that are very hot will emit more ultraviolet light. Where are the hottest stars - in the plane of the galaxy or just outside it? Do a literature search on black holes - in what wavelengths would they most easily be observed?

AS04: Distant Galaxies download
Learning Objective Software Level

This activity uses the Hubble Deep Field image to examine and classify very distant galaxies. What fraction are spiral? Elliptical? Red? Blue? By comparing statistics from two segments of the image, a conclusion can be drawn about the uniformity of the Universe.

Astronomy

grades 5-12, but younger students can count and classify the galaxies

Introducing the Activity Content

The Hubble Deep Field image is a very long time exposure of a region of space which appears very dark in most images. When viewed for a long time, the very distant images appear. Most are red because the universe is expanding, making the distant galaxies red. Some are blue because they have very young stars, which have more blue and ultraviolet light. Even when red-shifted by the expansion of the universe, they still look red.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Properties of Matter, Motion and Forces
  • Understanding Science and Technology
  • Earth in the solar system
  • Origin and evolution of the solar system

Specific Mathematics Content Standards

  • Understand Measurable Attributes
  • Analyze Characteristics
  • Compute Fluently
  • Make Connections
  • Mathematical Representations
Extending the Activity

Advanced students can do statistics on the proportion of red to blue of the larger and of the smaller galaxies. How much of a doppler shift would it take to make a blue star (peak frequency 340 nm) look red (630 nm)?

AS05: Moon Phases download
Learning Objective Software Level

This activity shows actual photographs of the various phases of the Moon. Many books just take a full moon image and just darken part of it. These images, because they are all taken by the same camera, preserve not only the correct heights of shadows but also the minor changes in size and orientation that the Moon exhibits during a month. Younger children can use this to point out the phases of the moon and whether it is waxing or waning. Older children can calculate the eccentricity of the Moon's orbit by measuring the size of the Moon and using the simple equation at the bottom.

Astronomy
Solar System

grades 3-8

Introducing the Activity Content

As the students if they know the phases of the moon. Many will, although they will often call "half-moon" instead of "first quarter". Ask them why they think it's called first quarter. Some will say it's because we see a quarter of the moon's surface sunlit. That is true, but in fact half of the moon is always sunlit - we just don't alway see the sunlit half. The reason astronomers call it first quarter (or third quarter) is that the moon is one-fourth (or three fourths) the way around its orbit. (This sequence is shown as an animated gif in the Solar System section of Space Update).

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Position/Motion of Objects
  • Earth in the solar system
  • Changes in Earth and Sky

Specific Mathematics Content Standards

  • Understand Measurable Attributes
  • Analyze Characteristics
  • Compute Fluently
  • Make Connections
  • Mathematical Representations
Extending the Activity

Advanced students can do the mathematical exercise, calculating the eccentricity (ellipticity) of the Moon's orbit by measuring the sizes of the various images. The eccentricity is the ratio of the difference of the maximum and minimum distance divided by the sum of the maximum and minimum distance. Since The apparent size of the Moon is inversely related to its distance, we can use the size measurements for the calculations as well. After calculating, look in the Solar System section of Space Update, under "Earth" then "Moon" to see the accepted value of the Moon's eccentricity.

AS06: Height of the Moon's Features download
Learning Objective Software Level

This activity allows students to calculate the height of mountains or crater rims near the Moon's terminator by measuring the length of their shadow. It also allows students to calculate the minimum height of a mountain whose base is in darkness but whose peak is in sunlight. This version of the activity uses simple proportions, not trigonometry.

Astronomy

grades 6-9

Introducing the Activity Content

If you are doing a unit on the history of Astronomy, this is an excellent activity to introduce one of the key observations of Galileo that disproved the Aristotle view of all planets as being perfect spheres. This is also an easy observation to do with your class on a clear night at first quarter moon. Even in a small telescope the craters stand out in sharp relief, and the kids will be delighted at how three-dimensional they appear. Even young students can do the shadow calculation of the height of the flagpole. Using "1" to change units is a very powerful tool, and can be used in many calculations.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Position/Motion of Objects
  • Earth in the solar system
  • Changes in Earth and Sky

Specific Mathematical Content Standards

  • Understand Measurable Attributes
  • Analyze Characteristics
  • Compute Fluently
  • Make Connections
  • Mathematical Representations
Extending the Activity

Advanced students can do the measurement and mathematical calculations, allowing them to estimate the heights of craters on the sunny side of the terminator (by the shadow lengths, page 2), or by measuring how far away from the terminator in the dark area they can see a bright mountaintop (page 3). Even more advanced students can do the calculations more accurately using trigonometry.

SS01: Planet Trivia download
Learning Objective Software Level

This activity is a treasure hunt for fascinating facts. As they complete this activity, students will develop hypotheses on where to find planets with certain kinds of characteristics and how characteristics relate to a planet's size, composition or distance from the sun.

Solar System

grades 5-8, but easily adaptable for younger students working in groups

Introducing the Activity Content

The activity is best done in teams where students decide what the possible answers are as they search the databases on each planet. Tell students that this is an activity where teamwork pays. Each team must try to fill in as many blanks as they can in the time allotted. Recommend that teams assign roles to members. Give students a few minutes to decide as a team how they're going to find all of the answers. Each team will need access to a computer. Once the teams are gathered around their computers, you can tell the groups to begin. Stop before any team has finished, but all teams have found some answers. Review the answers as a class and see which questions stumped more students and which were most obvious. These answers will give you an idea where students have the most knowledge and where they know the least.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Motions and forces Changes in Earth and sky (K-4) Earth in the solar system
  • Origin and evolution of the solar system
Extending the Activity

After they have filled in the blanks, ask students to identify any characteristics that belong to these specific groups. The characteristic does not have to be in the list, but it must apply to all the members of the group.

SS02: Close Encounters download
Learning Objective Software Level

This activity forces students to compare the sizes of objects in the solar system - first within a photograph and then between photographs.

Solar System

grades 5-8, but easily adaptable for older students; younger students can fill out first chart and calculate their age

Introducing the Activity Content

Ask students which objects in the solar system they can identify. Then challenge students to identify the larger object in each photo as quickly as possible. Explain that they will also have to find the smaller object or objects in each photograph and name them as well. Students will probably have to use the solar system software to find and identify many of the smaller bodies. You can offer a reward for the student or team of students who identifies the greatest number of bodies in all of the photographs. (The photos of Jupiter and Saturn contain more than one moon.)

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Motions and forces Changes in Earth and sky (K-4) Earth in the solar system
  • Origins and evolution of the solar system
Extending the Activity

The questions that follow the identification activity force students to compare the objects within the photographs and between photographs. Students may need to go to the solar system software databases to find the real sizes of different bodies.

SS03: Planet Math download
Learning Objective Software Level

This activity forces students to look for relationships between different characteristics of the planets and to explain these relationships.

Solar System

grades 5-8, but easily adaptable for older students; younger students can fill out first chart and calculate their age

Introducing the Activity Content

Tell students that the planet on which they live determines their age and their weight. Both of these quantities will change as people travel to the different planets. Explain that students are going to record data about each planet and then use these data to compare the planets. Ask all students (individually or in groups) to fill in the table first (except for the last column). Then work through the problems together as a class or in groups. Encourage students to describe their findings each step of the way.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Earth in the solar system
  • Origins and evolution of the solar system

Specific Mathematics Content Standards

  • Understand Measurable Attributes Analyze Characteristics Make Predictions Based on Data
  • Make Connections
Extending the Activity

The surface gravity and density activities are the most difficult. Surface gravity depends on the mass of the planet and inversely on the square of the planet's radius. This may be difficult for students to predict, but if they graph surface gravity vs. mass or surface gravity vs. radius, the relationship will be apparent. High school students can plot in log-log format and discuss exponents. In calculating density, students may have difficulty with the units.

SS04: Comparing Places download
Learning Objective Software Level

In this activity students observe craters on different worlds and hypothesize what caused them.

Solar System

grades 5-8, but easily adaptable for younger students working in groups

Introducing the Activity Content

Ask students what they call a mountain with a crater on top. At least one student will quickly say volcano. Then ask how this crater was made. Students will describe a volcanic eruption at some level of accuracy. Next ask students if craters form in any other way? Discuss and give clues until students describe impact craters. Finally explain that astronomers find both kinds of craters on many places in the solar system. After the object is photographed, astronomers look for clues to determine if a volcanic eruption or an impact created the object. (Which one can have central mountains? Which ones have lava flows?) In this activity students will also be astronomy detectives as they identify objects and decide what caused the eruption or impact on each one.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Position/motion of objects Earth in the solar system Changes in Earth and sky (K-4)
  • Origins and evolution of the solar system
Extending the Activity

Ask students to look up images of volcanoes and impact craters on earth and then to decide how to tell the volcanoes and impact craters apart.

SS05: Exploring Ellipses download
Learning Objective Software Level

In this activity students explore the properties of ellipses and orbital parameters.

Solar System

grades 5-8, with extended activities for 9-12

Introducing the Activity Content

Ask students what is an ellipse. Most will know what an oval is. They may know what an "eccentric" ellipse is, but most will not guess that an ellipse of eccentricity of 0.25 still appear quite circular to the eye - just the foci are offset from the center.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Position/motion of objects Earth in the solar system Changes in Earth and sky (K-4)
  • Origins and evolution of the solar system
Extending the Activity

Have students calculate eccentricity and semimajor axis from aphelion and perihelion, or vice versa. Calculate these for the moons of the planets.

SS06: Variable Venus download
Learning Objective Software Level

In this activity students explore how the position, angular size, and phase of Venus change as its orbital position with respect to Earth changes.

Solar System

grades 5-8, with extended activities for 9-12

Introducing the Activity Content

Do the "Exploring Ellipses" activity first, so that students know about aphelion and perihelion. Ask them what proof they can give you that the planets actually revolve around the Sun and not the Earth.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Position/motion of objects Earth in the solar system Changes in Earth and sky (K-4)
  • Origins and evolution of the solar system
Extending the Activity

By using the extended plotting activity, students will be able to determine Earth's location in the solar system from the Right Ascension of the Sun, and can plot the position of Venus by knowing Earth's position and Venus's RA and distance. For advanced students, choose other planets and plot them also on the same polar plot.

ST01: Constellation Quest download
Learning Objective Software Level

In this activity students find the most easily identified constellations in the starfield. They then make star cards to use outside as they look for the patterns in the real night sky.

Sky Tonight

grades 5-8, but easily adaptable for younger students working in groups

Introducing the Activity Content

Ask students if any of them have seen a constellation in the night sky. Make a list of all the constellations that students have found. Then tell students that they will be operating a computer program that will show them the sky tonight and they can figure out where the brightest patterns are in the sky this evening (or tomorrow morning!). (Not all of the constellations in the activity will be visible any given night - some will be too close to the Sun).

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Changes in earth and sky (K-4)
  • Understanding about science and technology
Extending the Activity

Tell students that it's time to use their imaginations. People told stories about the night sky to remember the patterns and to share them with their children long before there were any maps or astronomy books. Ask students to pick one pattern and draw how the stars create the mythical shape.

ST02: The 'Stationary Star' download
Learning Objective Software Level

Because of the rotation of the Earth, the stars appear to move through the course of the night, rising in the East and setting in the West. In this activity, students discover that the rotation of the Earth makes the northern hemisphere stars appear to rotate counterclockwise around a single point - the north celestial pole. The students will learn how the rotation of the Earth makes the stars appear to rotate around the celestial pole, and discover the closest star to that location (Polaris, the North Star).

Sky Tonight

grades 5-8, but easily adaptable for younger students working in groups

Introducing the Activity Content

Ask students if any of them have ever seen a real star move - not just a shooting star (which is not a star at all, but a grain of comet dust). Follow by saying that students will use The Sky Tonight software to see that the early morning sky looks quite different from the evening sky, except for one special star.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Changes in earth and sky (K-4)
  • Understanding about science and technology
Extending the Activity

After finishing this activity, discuss with students why the stars appear to move. Is it because all the stars are circling the Earth? Students will agree that this is not the right explanation. Lead students to say that it's the turning of the Earth that causes the stars to appear to move relative to our moving horizon. Carry this discussion into as much detail as is appropriate for the level of your students. For advanced students, you can talk about why some stars are "winter" stars and some are "summer" stars.

ST03: Planet Search download
Learning Objective Software Level

In this activity students learn how to find planets in the night sky. Then they discover that planets appear in only a few constellations (the Zodiac Band).

Sky Tonight

grades 5-8, but easily adaptable for younger students working in groups

Introducing the Activity Content

Ask students if any of them have ever seen a planet in the sky. Follow with a question about how they would know that they were seeing a planet. Then tell students that they are going to explore the night sky on the computer to find planets and use their discoveries to see real planets outside.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Changes in earth and sky (K-4)
  • Earth in the solar system
  • Origin and evolution of the solar system
Extending the Activity

It is important for students to realize that planets are always found in the Zodiac Band and never in the Big Dipper, for instance. This is caused by the flatness of the solar system. The planets and most of the other objects in the solar system are rolling around like marbles on an imaginary table top. It is most important for students to realize that the solar system is flat and that their own observations of planets agree with this fact.

ST04: A Month of Moons download
Learning Objective Software Level

In this activity students use the Sky Tonight software to "watch" the Moon for a whole month and observe all phases of the Moon's cycle. They measure how long it takes for the Moon to orbit the Earth and see how the Moon's phase changes.

Sky Tonight
Solar System

grades 5-8, but easily adaptable for younger students

Introducing the Activity Content

Ask students what the Moon looks like in the sky. Some will describe a full moon; others will describe a crescent or perhaps a half moon. Tell students that they are going to observe the Moon using the Sky Tonight software to discover how the shape of the Moon's sunlit part changes during the month. We call these changes the "phases" of the Moon. (Of course the Moon itself does not actually change shape). When the Moon is in the opposite direction from the Sun, the Moon is "full" - fully lit. At other times the Moon is a crescent (less than half is lit) or gibbous (more than half is lit). When the Moon is a narrow crescent, the students can often see the dark part of the Moon faintly lit. This is called "Earthshine", light reflected off the Earth. This proves that the Moon is still a sphere, just with different lighting conditions.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Changes in earth and sky (K-4)
  • Earth in the solar system
Extending the Activity

After students have determined how the Moon's phase and location changes throughout the month, it is important for them to know why the Moon's appearance changes. At this time you should do a demonstration with a flashlight and white ball to show that the phases are caused by the relationship between the Sun, Moon, and Earth. As the Moon circles the Earth, the Sun illuminates different portions of its Earth-facing surface. This is also a good time to illustrate using three children that the Moon must rotate on its axis once per month in order to always keep the same face to the Earth. Is there a "dark side of the Moon"? Is it always the same half or does the dark half change from day to day?

ST05: Plotting the Moon download
Learning Objective Software Level

In this activity students use the Sky Tonight software to "watch" the Moon for a whole month and observe all phases of the Moon's cycle. They measure how long it takes for the Moon to orbit the Earth and see how the phase of the Moon is related to its location in the evening sky.

Sky Tonight
Solar System

grades 8-9, and can be extended for Algebra 2 and Geometry students

Introducing the Activity Content

Ask the students if they notice that an evening Moon's location is related to its phase. You only see a crescent moon in the evening Western sky; a full Moon rises in the East in the early evening. You never see a crescent Moon at midnight.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Changes in earth and sky (K-4)
  • Understanding about science and technology

Specific Mathematical Content Standards

  • Using mathematics to analyze and predict change
  • Interpret data using methods of exploratory data analysis
  • Use representations to model physical phenomena
Extending the Activity

This activity introduces the concepts of altitude and azimuth, and has the student plot the position of the Moon through two weeks, from crescent to full. Students can plot the altitude versus the azimuth, and see what kind of graph is obtained. An extension also introduces polar plots, and celestial coordinates, for more advanced students. The students should have done activity 4 (A Month of Moons) first.

ST06: North Sky Adventure download
Learning Objective Software Level

To observe the stars rotating around the north star at night. To recognize that stars of different seasons look different.

Upper level objectives: to introduce the topic of celestial coordinates and "sidereal time".

Sky Tonight

all levels

Introducing the Activity Content

 

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Locating stars and constellations using star chart
  • Rotation of the Earth
  • Sidereal time
Extending the Activity

 

SW01: Northern Lights and Solar Sprites download
Learning Objective Software Level

Many different areas in solar and space science are covered in highly interactive exercises. These include studying convection on the Sun, solar flares, how to design a rocket payload, and the general subject of how the Sun affects the Earth. It was specifically designed to fill a well-known gap in NASA's offerings for the lower grades, and to do so in a way that is both fun, and well-integrated with national science benchmarks and standards.

Space Weather

grades K-6

Introducing the Activity Content

Each of 13 different lessons focuses upon a particular aspect of studying the Sun and the Earth as a system, and how scientists make the observations. Included in the procedure sections are questions that will further encourage scientific inquiry.

Each lesson begins with a description of the activities in which the students will participate, and provides general background information. The Objectives section highlights the science process skills the students will develop while completing the activities. The Procedures sections are general, and can be adapted to meet the knowledge and developmental levels of the students.

Many lessons have extension activities designed to have the students apply the new knowledge in grade appropriate activities. Key terms are included to further enhance the teacher's comfort level with the material.Extending the ActivityTell students that it's time to use their imaginations. People told stories about the night sky to remember the patterns and to share them with their children long before there were any maps or astronomy books. Ask students to pick one pattern and draw how the stars create the mythical shape.

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Science as Inquiry
  • Properties of Objects and Materials
  • Position and Motion of Objects
  • Motions and Forces
  • Light and Magnetism
  • Transfer of Energy
  • Objects in the Sky
  • Earth in the Solar System
  • Abilities of Technological Design
  • Understanding Science and Technology
  • Science and Technology in Society
  • Science as a Human Endeavor
  • Understanding about science and technology
SW02: Mission And Instruments of IMAGE download
Learning Objective Software Level

An analysis of the NASA IMAGE mission and its instrument package.

Space Weather

grades 10-12

Introducing the Activity Content

Chapter 1. Solar Physics and the IMAGE Mission

  • Activity 1: The Sunspot Cycle
  • Activity 2: The Sunspot Cycle II
  • Activity 3: Parts of the Sunspot Cycle
  • Activity 4: Graphing the Sunspot Cycle
  • Activity 5: Sunspot Cycle 1611-1700

Chapter 2. Earth's Magnetosphere and the IMAGE Mission

  • Activity 1: The Normal Magnetosphere
  • Activity 2: The Disturbed Magnetosphere
  • Activity 3: The Magnetotail
  • Activity 4: Polar Coordinates
  • Activity 5: Measuring Distances on a Polar Map
  • Activity 6: Earth's Wandering Poles

Chapter 3 The Orbit of IMAGE

  • Activity 1: Drawing Elliptical Orbits
  • Activity 2: Eccentricity of Orbits
  • Activity 3: Scale Drawing of the Orbit of IMAGE
  • Activity 4: The Center of Mass 8

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Science as Inquiry
  • Motions and Forces
  • Conservation of Energy
  • Interactions of Energy and Matter
  • Energy in the Earth System
  • Origin and Evolution of the Earth System
  • Understandings about Science and Technology
  • Science as Human Endeavor
  • Nature of Scientific Knowledge
  • Historical Perspectives

Specific Mathematical Content Standards

  • Large/small numbers
  • Compute fluently
  • Analyze change: graphical data
  • Specify locations: polar coordinates
  • Units and scales
  • Display and discuss bivariate data
  • Apply a variety of problem solving strategies
  • Various types of reasoning
  • Contexts outside of mathematics
SW03: Solar Storms and You download
Learning Objective Software Level

A series of 6 workbook activities exploring sunspots and solar activity.

Space Weather

grades 7-9

Introducing the Activity Content

Activity 3a: Solar Activity Cycles
The Sunspot Cycle - Suspot Activity and Ocean Temperature - Sunspot Activity on other Stars

Activity 3b: The Solar Wind
CME Plotting Activity - Solar Activity and CMEs - Anatomy of a CME

Activity 3c: Magnetic Storms
Magnetic Storms from the Ground - Motion of the Magnetic Pole - A Soda Bottle Magnetometer

Activity 3d: Aurora and the Ionosphere
AM Radio Ionosphere Station - Auroras and Magnetic Storms - Radio Waves and the Ionosphere

Activity 3e: Satellite Design
IMAGE Satellite Scaling - IMAGE Satellite Scale Model - Pie Charts in Science

Activity 3f: Human Impacts
Solar Storms and Satellites - Cosmic Radiation Creates Unfriendly Skies - Satellite Glitches and Cosmic Rays - Radiation Exposure on a Trip to Mars

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Science as Inquiry
  • Structure and Energy of the Earth System
  • Earth in the Solar System
  • Physical Science
  • Understanding about Science and Technology

Specific Mathematical Content Standards

  • Problem Solving
  • Measurement
  • Communication
  • Computation and Estimation
  • Geometry and Advanced Mathematics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Patterns and Functions
SW04: IMAGE Explores... download
Learning Objective Software Level

A series of 1-page NASA Education Briefs that contain information about a specific IMAGE instrument or technology issue on the front page. On the back of the page, there is a classroom activity that students can work on that picks up on some aspect of the main essay. Typical activities may exercise geometric skills, algebraic manipulation, or graphing. More of these 1-page NASA Briefs are in production.

Space Weather

grades 10-12

Introducing the Activity Content

Activity 4a: Geomagnetic Storms
In this activity, students will use two data tables that record the number and severity of geomagnetic storms during a solar cycle. They will plot this data and answer several questions having to do with how often geomagnetic storms occur during the year, and the frequency of their severity.

Activity 4b: The Plasmasphere
Exploring the Plasmasphere with IMAGE

Activity 4c: Aurora
Exploring the Aurora with IMAGE

Activity 4d: The Magnetopause
Exploring the Magnetopause with IMAGE

Activity 4e: Ring Currents
Exploring the Ring Current with IMAGE

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Science as Inquiry
  • Structure and Energy of the Earth System
  • Earth in the Solar System
  • Physical Science
  • Understanding about Science and Technology

Specific Mathematical Content Standards

  • Problem Solving
  • Measurement
  • Communication
  • Computation and Estimation
  • Geometry and Advanced Mathematics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Patterns and Functions
SW05: Magnetic Sensor Measurements with a Graphing Calculator download
Learning Objective Software Level

This activity was developed at Rice University in Houston, TX. It uses magnetic field sensors with the "Texas Instrument" Graphing Calculator and CBL to measure and plot magnetic fields. This allows the student to prove that magnetic fields decrease as the negative cube of the distance. This was initally developed for IPC (Integrated Physics and Chemistry) classes, but some advanced middle school earth science classes can use it.

Space Weather

grades 9-12, but adaptable for some 6-8 classes

Introducing the Activity Content

It requires the use of the following materials:

  • 1. TI-83 Plus graphing calculator
  • 2. TI CBL 2 Calculator-Based Laboratory
  • 3. Vernier´┐Ż Magnetic Field Sensor (MFS)
  • 4. A permanent magnet (preferably a strong "cow" magnet)
  • 5. Graph Paper and permanent marker

Specific Science Content Standards

  • Science as Inquiry
  • Physical Science
  • Understanding about Science and Technology

Specific Mathematical Content Standards

  • Problem Solving
  • Measurement
  • Computation and Estimation
  • Geometry and Advanced Mathematics
SW06: The Northern Lights download
Learning Objective Software Level

A guide to understanding the aurora borealis through 10 different math, geometry and reading activities.

Space Weather

grades 7-8

Introducing the Activity

Activity 1: Aurora: The Human Dimension
Students read essays by a scientist and two Alaskan students and answer questions.

Activity 2: Where to See an Aurora
Students plot satellite data on polar map to see geographic location of auroral belt (auroral oval)

Activity 3: Aurora Viewing from the Ground
Students use geometry to find observing latitudes for aurora given their height above ground.

Activity 4: Estimating Heights with a Clinometer
Students use a simple instrument to measure the height of an object in the classroom and outdoors

Activity 5: How High Up are Aurora?
Students learn about the triangulation method for finding the altitude of aurora above ground.

Activity 6: Aurora Triangulation from Photographs
Students analyze two photographs to measure the parallax and altitude of an aurora.

Activity 7: Auroral Magnetism from the Ground
Students analyze graphs to determine the range of magnetic changes at Canadian observatories.

Activity 8: How to Predict an Aurora
Students learn about the Kp index and relate it to predicting aurora.

Activity 9: Auroral Activity and Latitude
Students extract data from a graph and calculate a best-fit curve using a calculator.

Activity 10: Decoding an Ancient Mystery
Students decode a simulated viking rune inscription using a decoder table, and answer a question about what causes aurora

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