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Learners will build and decorate their own spectrographs using simple materials and holographic diffraction gratings. After building the spectrographs, they observe the spectra of different light sources. Requires advance preparation to spray-paint... (View More)

Learners will explore different ways of displaying visual spectra, including colored "barcode" spectra, like those produced by a diffraction grating, and line plots displaying intensity versus color, or wavelength. Students learn that a diffraction... (View More)

Learners will relate the concept of density to the density of dust in space. They will use mission data from the Student Dust Counter (SDC) data viewer to determine the density of dust grains in a volume of space in order to answer questions... (View More)

This is a lesson about spacecraft communication. Learners will explore the concepts of "signal" and "noise" by listening to a computer-generated signal from two different distances with no additional background noise, and then with background noise,... (View More)

Audience: Elementary school
Materials Cost: Free

This is an activity about mission planning. Learners will use the roles of a navigation team, spacecraft, comet, Earth, and Sun to simulate how mission planners design a spacecraft/comet rendezvous. This activity requires at least four active... (View More)

Learners will explore how engineers minimize the use of fuel by utilizing gravity. In Activity 1, students explore the physical conservation laws by observing the behavior of balls colliding with other objects. In Activity 2, the students use an... (View More)

This is a lesson about using gravity to assist in spacecraft navigation. Learners will relate an elastic collision to the change in a satellite's or spacecraft's speed and direction resulting from a planetary fly-by, often called a "gravity assist"... (View More)

Keywords: Navigation
Audience: High school
Materials Cost: $1 - $5 per group of students

In this lesson, students observe the surface of rotating potatoes to help them understand how astronomers can sometimes determine the shape of asteroids from variations in reflective brightness.

Learners will construct a model to show the relative size and scale of the Sun-Earth system, investigate the visible and electromagnetic spectrums, discuss solar flares and solar weather, develop a UV shield, and discuss the results of their... (View More)

Audience: Middle school

This is a lesson about discovering distant planets using an Earth-based observing technique called stellar occultation. Learners will explore how a stellar occultation occurs, how planetary atmospheres can be discovered, and how planetary diameters... (View More)