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This activity explores how ancient Sun observers made use of natural and built structures to mark solar alignments observed at different times of the year, particularly around the solstices and equinoxes. In Part 1, the teacher prepares a horizon... (View More) table that represents the Earth’s horizon. In Part 2, students create functioning models of an existing ancient solar observatory or design their own observatory. In Part 3, students test their model using the horizon table and a flashlight as the Sun. The lesson includes discussion questions, background information about Maya astronomy, a checklist for science notebook write-ups, and a math extension activity that measures shadows. This activity is the seventh lesson in the Ancient Eyes Look to the Skies curriculum. (View Less)
This is a activity about applying the scientific method to a design challenge. Learners will design and build a platform that will be placed on a heat source. The platform is expected to serve as an insulator for a cube of gelatin. The goal is to... (View More) keep the inside temperature of the gelatin cube as cool as possible. Materials cost will vary, depending on materials chosen by group (within budget set by the teacher). Ties are made to the Mercury MESSENGER mission. Note: the student guide starts on p. 17 of the PDF. (View Less)
This is a detailed lesson about heat transfer and distance. Learners will design and conduct experiments to answer the question, "how does distance and inclination affect the amount of heat received from a heat source?" They will measure heat change... (View More) as a function of distance or viewing angle. From that experiment, they will identify how the MESSENGER mission to Mercury takes advantage of these passive cooling methods to keep the spacecraft comfortable in a high-temperature environment. This is lesson 3 from MESSENGER Education Module: Staying Cool. Note: the student guide starts on p. 24 of the PDF. (View Less)
In this activity, learners will construct a model of a lunar roving vehicle. This activity is in Unit 2 of the Exploring the Moon teachers guide, which is designed for use especially, but not exclusively, with the Lunar Sample Disk program.