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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)
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 astronomy program is designed for middle school children in out-of-school-time settings. The program explores basic astronomy concepts (like invisible light, telescopes) and focuses on the universe outside the solar system (stars, galaxies,... (View More) black holes). The program is structured for use in a variety of settings, including astronomy days, summer camps, or year-long afterschool programs. Although session activities build concepts sequentially, each session activity is designed to be freestanding as not all participants may attend every session. A manual provides background information and descriptions of how to conduct each activity. A companion website provides additional information and resources for the program leader. (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 exhibit uses text and images to portray humanity's views of the universe and how they have evolved over time. It includes six two-sided panels that feature key astronomical discoveries from the past 400 years. The exhibit also highlights the... (View More) technological advancements that made these discoveries possible. Exhibit topics range from celestial objects within our own "cosmic backyard" to those beyond the realm of our solar system. Featured objects include the sun, the moon, Saturn, Mars, comets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies. Images are accompanied by captions that highlight relevant, historical discoveries. Each exhibit panel is supported by supplemental resource materials available online in a downloadable, PDF format. Resource materials include science background information in the form of Q&As, related science misconceptions, a glossary, and links to additional resources on NASA's Amazing Space website. In addition, each exhibit panel is available as a downloadable, poster-size file. (View Less)
This activity includes twelve monthly star charts to identify the stars that are visible in the night sky and that are known to have planets around them. The star maps can be used to find constellations and identify stars with extrasolar planets.... (View More) (Northern Hemisphere only, naked eye) (View Less)
This is an activity about ultraviolet light. Learners will make ultraviolet light detector bracelets and use them to experiment with artificial light and sunlight. Then, they experiment with various sun-blocking materials to see how such materials... (View More) impact the beads' absorption of ultraviolet light. Special UV detecting beads are required for this activity. This is Activity 3 of the Sun As a Star afterschool curriculum. (View Less)