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Students are introduced to the periodic table and the concept of atomic elements. The group discusses how all material in the Universe is composed of elements and that the atom is the smallest particle that still has the physical and chemical... (View More) properties of any given element. As an exercise in statistics, the students participate in a counting experiment in which they sample a 'Universe bead mix' (where each bead color represents a different element present in the Universe) to estimate the overall composition of the Universe. They compare their findings of the Universe's overall composition with the composition of various different objects in the Universe that are represented by mixtures of rice, beans and other dried goods in jars. Finally, students are introduced to the idea that hydrogen fusion creates heavier elements inside a star. This activity is part of a series that has been designed specifically for use with Girl Scouts, but the activities can be used in other settings. Most of the materials are inexpensive; however, some portions of the preparation can be time intensive. It is recommended that a leader with astronomy knowledge lead the activities, or at least be available to answer questions, whenever possible. (View Less)
Students are introduced to the scientific tool of spectroscopy. They each build a simple spectroscope to examine the light from different light sources, particularly the Sun (Warning: Do not look directly at the Sun) and artificial lights (e.g.,... (View More) fluorescent or sodium lamps). Students compare the continuous spectrum of incandescent lights and the solar spectrum with the clear spectral lines of the fluorescent or sodium room lights and discharge lamps. They learn how the spectral "fingerprints" of each particular element help astronomers recognize the presence of specific elements in distant astronomical objects. Students are also introduced to the broader electromagnetic spectrum beyond what is visible with our eyes and how scientists observe distant objects using multiple wavelength bands. This activity is part of a series that has been designed specifically for use with Girl Scouts, but the activities can be used in other settings. Most of the materials are inexpensive. (View Less)
Students are introduced to the basic properties, behavior and detection of black holes through a brief discussion of common conceptions and misconceptions of these exciting objects. They "act out" a way black holes might be detected through their... (View More) interaction with other objects. In this activity, girls represent binary star systems in pairs, walking slowly around one another in a darkened room with each pair holding loops of wire to simulate the gravitational interaction. Most of the students are wearing glow-in-the-dark headbands to simulate stars, some are without headbands to represent black holes, and a small set of the black holes have flashlights to simulate X-ray emission. This activity is part of a series that has been designed specifically for use with Girl Scouts, but the activities can be used in other settings. Most of the materials are inexpensive or easily found. It is recommended that a leader with astronomy knowledge lead the activities, or at least be available to answer questions, whenever possible. (View Less)
In this activity, learners replicate the scientific processes of observing, forming an explanation, revising and communicating about a model of a comet. Learners construct a model of features of a comet using an assortment of common craft supplies.... (View More) This activity relates to several NASA comet missions such as Deep Impact, Stardust, Stardust-NExT, and EPOXI and can be used to emulate a process that scientists and engineers follow on all missions. (View Less)
This manual provides simple demonstrations to show how lenses and mirrors are used to create telescopes. It was created for use by the Night Sky Network of astronomy clubs.
This poster series highlights six astronomical images observed with NASA's Great Observatories (Hubble, Chandra and Spitzer) and found within the "From Earth to the Universe" (FETTU) exhibition. Each poster contains additional information on the... (View More) historical context of the astronomical objects (constellation, view with the unaided eye), as well as basic facts about the specific object, the category of object, the NASA missions used, and the contributions to advancing knowledge of the universe enabled by the NASA observations. The materials expand on the theme of demonstrating how far understanding and knowledge have come since Galileo's telescope 400 years ago with illustrations of specific NASA contributions, provide background information on which informal educators can draw for NASA-related activities in their programming, and include student activities. (View Less)
This paper model of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope includes three pages of parts that can be cut out and assembled using common household items. It also provides a short description of the scientific instruments on board Fermi, as well as links... (View More) to other resources about its instruments. (View Less)
This is a lesson about the shape of objects in space. Learners will observe the surface of rotating potatoes to help them understand how astronomers use variations in reflective brightness to determine the shape of asteroids.
This is an activity about boundaries. Participants will imagine they have taken a journey from Earth through the Solar System out into the Milky Way Galaxy. Using images on the front of the My Place in Space lithograph, they will write or draw on... (View More) the back of the lithograph to tell their friends about their journey and the real and imaginary boundaries they crossed on their journey. The activity includes connections to science related to the Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, spacecraft. This activity complements other IBEX informal education materials. An instructional video explaining how to facilitate this activity is available: http://bit.ly/14IoHVN. (View Less)
This is an activity about the states of matter. Learners will participate in a demonstration to reintroduce them to three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. The demonstration also introduces them to a fourth state of matter, plasma, through... (View More) investigation of the properties of volume and shape as they relate to common solids, liquids, and gases, and to the mystery matter later identified at the end as plasma. The demonstration also covers plasma's connection to the Sun and connections to science related to the Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, spacecraft. This activity complements other IBEX informal education materials. The demonstration requires use of a small plasma ball and, ideally, a slightly darkened room so that the plasma ball can be more easily seen. An instructional video explaining how to facilitate this activity is available: http://bit.ly/125ZW5k. (View Less)