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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 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)
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 a lesson about the design and operation of an ion propulsion engine. 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... (View More) are changes in energy and fuel consumption as a result of variable changes (dependent/independent variable relationships). This is activity 5 of 5 in Structure and Properties of Matter: Ion Propulsion. (View Less)
This lesson is about data collection. Learners will investigate different methods of sampling in a simulated cleanroom environment. Includes a teacher's guide and students handouts. This lesson 7 of 10 from the Dynamic Design: The Cleanroom module.
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)
This is a lesson about the energy output of the Sun. 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... (View More) measure the solar constant - the amount of energy in 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)
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)
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)
This is a lesson about passive cooling methods. 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... (View More) heat can be transmitted from one place to another, 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)