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Universe of Learning Science Briefing: October 2017

Created by Brandon Lawton Last updated 10/3/2017

The resources in this list pertain to the presentation given on October 5, 2017, titled, "What Lurks in the Dark? An Exploration of Dark Matter".
NASA's Universe of Learning is a program which will integrate NASA's Astrophysics Science Mission Directorate programs, and will advance STEM learning and literacy by creating and delivering a unified suite of education products, programs, and professional development that spans the full spectrum of NASA Astrophysics.
NASA's Universe of Learning is partnering with the Museum Alliance to provide professional development briefings for the informal science education community. These briefings provide current NASA Astrophysics themes, content, and resources to the informal community. These curated lists present the resources described during the briefings. To find the briefings, you can go here:

  • Website: Dark Matter Day

    On October 31, 2017, the world will celebrate the historic hunt for the unseen—something that scientists refer to as dark matter. Global, regional, and local events are being planned on and around that date by institutions and individuals looking to engage the public in discussions about what we already know about dark matter and the many present as well as planned experiments seeking to solve its mysteries.
  • Featured Activity: Jelly Bean Universe

    Like the jelly beans in the jar in this activity, the Universe is mostly dark: about 96 percent consists of dark energy (about 73%) and dark matter (about 22%). Only about 4.6 percent (the same proportion as the lighter colored jelly beans) of the Universe—including the stars, planets and us—is made of familiar atomic matter.
  • Featured Activity: Find the Missing Mass - Paper Plate Activity

    In this activity, participants can infer additional mass without detecting the mass directly, akin to astronomers detecting dark matter. This activity uses easy-to-find items.
  • Dark Matter Mystery

    This field guide from the Chandra X-ray Observatory breaks down what we know of the elusive dark matter.
  • Chandra: Ask an Astrophysicist

    Want to know more about dark matter from an astrophysicist? This website is a collection of questions relevant to the science and mission of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, submitted by students and the general public, with answers posted by experts in the field. Questions are organized in categories such as cosmology, black holes, normal stars, dark matter. The website urges users to browse the Q&A section and search the website before submitting a question.
  • Archived Blog: Sharing the NASA Frontier Fields Story

    By using Hubble, Spitzer, and Chandra to study these deep fields in different wavelengths of light, astronomers can learn a great deal about the physics of galaxy clusters, galaxy evolution, and other phenomena related to deep-field studies. This archived blog features many entries about how astronomers study dark matter within massive clusters of galaxies.
  • Dark Matter Possibilities

    In this activity, students investigate one specific topic (MACHOs, WIMPs or hydrogen gas) related to dark matter using available resources. Students will organize their findings and present this information in a creative and engaging fashion. This is activity seven in the "Hidden Lives of Galaxies" information and activity booklet that was designed for use with "The Hidden Lives of Galaxies" poster. The booklet includes student worksheets and background information for the teacher.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 1B/H9
  • What's the Matter?

    In this lesson, students will explore the density of substances as a model for understanding the mass to light ratio as a predictor of dark matter. They will measure and calculate mass and volume to calculate the density of a foam ball. Students will try to explain a discrepant event when data is not as expected (in this case a nerf ball that seems too heavy for its volume). Students will then use the concept of density, a ratio of mass to volume, to attempt to explain the mass to light ratio for luminosity and gravity.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4A/H4