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This collection of activities is based on a weekly series of space science mathematics problems distributed during the 2012-2013 school year. They were intended for students looking for additional challenges in the math and physical science... (View More) curriculum in grades 5 through 12. The problems were created to be authentic glimpses of modern science and engineering issues, often involving actual research data. The problems were designed to be one-pagers with a Teacher’s Guide and Answer Key as a second page. (View Less)

This activity is a short engineering design challenge to be completed by individual students or small teams. A real-world problem is presented, designing buildings for hurricane-prone areas, but in a simulated way that works in a classroom, after... (View More) school club, or informal education setting. Students are given simple materials and design requirements, and must plan and build a tower as tall as possible that will hold up a tennis ball while resisting the force of wind from a fan. After the towers are built, the group comes together to test them. If there is time after testing, which can be observational or framed as a contest between teams, students can redesign their towers to improve their performance, or simply discuss what worked well and what didn’t in their designs. (View Less)

Materials Cost: $1 - $5 per group of students

This is a lesson about statistics in science as it applies to the measurement of dust in space. Learners will be introduced to the concepts of error analysis, including standard deviation. They will apply the knowledge of averages (means), standard... (View More) deviation from the mean, and error analysis to their own distribution of heights and then to the Student Dust Counter (SDC) data to determine the issues associated with taking data including error and noise. (View Less)

This is an activity about detecting elements by using light. Learners will develop and apply methods to identify and interpret patterns to the identification of fingerprints. They look at fingerprints of their classmates, snowflakes, and finally... (View More) “spectral fingerprints” of elements. They learn to identify each image as unique, yet part of a group containing recognizable similarities. The activity is part of Project Spectra, a science and engineering program for middle-high school students, focusing on how light is used to explore the Solar System. (View Less)

This is a math-science integrated unit about spectrographs. Learners will find and calculate the angle that light is transmitted through a holographic diffraction grating using trigonometry. After finding this angle, the students will build their... (View More) own spectrographs in groups and research and design a ground or space-based mission using their creation. After the project is complete, student groups will present to the class on their trials, tribulations, and findings during this process. The activity is part of Project Spectra, a science and engineering program for middle-high school students, focusing on how light is used to explore the Solar System. (View Less)

This is a lesson about using the light from the star during an occultation event to identify the atmosphere of a planet. Learners will add and subtract light curves (presented as a series of geometrical shapes) to understand how this could occur.... (View More) The activity is part of Project Spectra, a science and engineering program for middle-high school students, focusing on how light is used to explore the Solar System. (View Less)

Activities in this lesson promote a fundamental understanding of relationships between graphed data. Sample graphs allow students to become familiar with interpreting data and to recognize relationships between variables. Additional microsets of... (View More) atmospheric data (gases, clouds, pressures, temperatures, precipitation) are included. Students will use that data to predict the appearance of a graph, plot the data points, study the data pattern and draw a conclusion. In addition, students will determine if a relationship exists between two variables; leading to an understanding that relationships between variables can be more complicated than simple linear ones. This lesson uses student- and citizen science-friendly microsets of authentic NASA Earth system science data from the MY NASA DATA project. It also includes sample graphs, related links, extensions, and an online glossary. (View Less)

This lesson uses a simple discrepant event to demonstrate the underlying cause for early miscalculation of the size of the Milky Way galaxy. By standardizing the Cepheid period-luminosity relationship without recognizing there were two types of... (View More) Cepheid variable stars with intrinsic differences in absolute magnitude, a distance calculation error occurred. Requires two lamps and two soft-white light bulbs: 25 watt and 60 watt (estimated materials cost is for light bulbs). This lesson is part of the Cosmic Times teachers guide and is intended to be used in conjunction with the 1955 Cosmic Times Poster. (View Less)

In this lesson, students measure the size of several galaxies to reproduce a plot of Hubble's Law. The goal of this lesson is to give students the chance to simulate the process that led to the notion that the universe is expanding, provide insight... (View More) into how this idea was reached, and inform students about the nature of our universe. This lesson is part of the Cosmic Times teacher's guide and is intended to be used in conjunction with the 1929 Cosmic Times Poster. (View Less)

Math skills are applied throughout this investigation of windows. Starting with basic window shapes, students determine area and complete a cost analysis, then do the same for windows of unconventional shapes. Students will examine photographs taken... (View More) by astronauts through windows on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station to explore the inverse relationship between lens size and area covered. This lesson is part of the Expedition Earth and Beyond Education Program. (View Less)