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**Earth and space science**

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**The nature of science**

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This is a lesson about the path of one xenon ion through an ion propulsion engine. Learners will focus on what a single xenon ion sees and does as it goes through the reactions and processes that provide the ion jet propulsion engine's thrust. They... (View More) will learn to adopt an informed, experimental method for use in a later lesson. A tightly-scripted slide-by-slide presentation is provided. Preconceptions are discussed. This is activity 4 of 5 in Structure and Properties of Matter: Ion Propulsion. (View Less)

Learners will study the essential components and variables of an ion propulsion system. Activities include an on-line ion propulsion engine simulation and design. Included are changes in energy and fuel consumption as a result of variable changes... (View More) (dependent/independent variable relationships). This is activity 5 of 5 in Structure and Properties of Matter: Ion Propulsion. (View Less)

This is a booklet containing 24 problem sets that involve a variety of math skills, including scientific notation, simple algebra, and calculus. Each set of problems is contained on one page. Learners will use mathematics to explore varied space... (View More) science topics including solar storms, solar energy, coronal mass ejections, and doppler shift, among others. (View Less)

This is a booklet containing 20 problem sets that involve a variety of math skills, including equations and substitution, time calculations, reading, algebra, and more. Each set of problems is contained on one page. Learners will use mathematics to... (View More) explore space science topics related to our Sun, auroras, solar features, space weather, sunspots, and solar storms. This booklet can be found on the Space Math@NASA website. (View Less)

This is a design challenge about heat transfer and insulation. Learners will apply the scientific method to design and build a container that will keep items cool when placed in boiling water. They will practice collaboration in team-building and in... (View More) teamwork. This is lesson 4 of 4 at the Grade 9-12 range of the module, Staying Cool. (View Less)

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 as a function of distance or viewing angle. From that... (View More) 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)

This is a lesson about radiation and the use of the scientific method to solve problems of too much radiation. Learners will build snow goggles similar to those used by the Inuit (designed to block unwanted light, while increasing the viewer's... (View More) ability to see in a bright region) to understand some of the engineering challenges encountered while protecting the solar cells on the Mercury MESSENGER. This is Lesson 2 of 4 at the middle level in the module, Staying Cool. (View Less)

Learners will construct a simple device to measure how effective different materials are for protecting against sunlight, explain how heat relates to the motion of atoms and molecules, describe how heat can be transmitted from one place to another,... (View More) explain how sunlight arriving on Earth interacts with matter, and describe how MESSENGER is protected by a simple sunshade in the hot Mercurian environment. Materials required to do this activity include several commonly-found items (e.g., coffee cans, ice cubes, tape, ruler, calculators, stopwatch, and scale). This is lesson 3 of 4 at the Grade 9-12 range of "Staying Cool." (View Less)

Learners will consider the essential question, "How much energy does sunlight provide to the Earth and what is its role in the Earth’s energy resources?" Activities include building a device to measure the solar constant - the amount of energy in... (View More) sunlight - calculating the amount of energy arriving at the Earth from the Sun, and describing the differences in solar radiation at Mercury compared to Earth. This is activity 1 of 4 in the module, Staying Cool. Note: the student guide starts on p. 21 of the PDF. (View Less)

In this activity, students solve exponential equations where the unknown is contained in the exponent. Students learn that taking base-10 or base-2 logs pulls down the exponent, allowing the unknown to be isolated and solved. This activity is... (View More) activity C3 in the "Far Out Math" educator's guide. Lessons in the guide include activities in which students measure, compare quantities as orders of magnitude, become familiar with scientific notation, and develop an understanding of exponents and logarithms using examples from NASA's GLAST mission. These are skills needed to understand the very large and very small quantities characteristic of astronomical observations. Note: In 2008, GLAST was renamed Fermi, for the physicist Enrico Fermi. (View Less)