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In this activity, students perform a version of the experiment of 1801, in which ultraviolet light was first discovered by Johann Wilhelm Ritter. This experiment should be conducted outdoors on a sunny day - variable cloud conditions, such as patchy... (View More)

Audience: Middle school
Materials Cost: $5 - $10 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.

This is a lesson about detecting atmospheres of planets. Learners will explore stellar occultation events (by interpreting light curves) to determine if an imaginary dwarf planet "Snorkzat" has an atmosphere. The activity is part of Project Spectra,... (View More)

In this activity, students learn that infrared light is reflected in the same manner as visible light. Students align a series of mirrors so that they can turn on a TV with a remote control when the remote is not in a direct line with the TV. As a... (View More)

Audience: Middle school, High school
Materials Cost: Free

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)

In this activity, students are introduced to light and colored gels (filters). Students make and test predictions about light and color using gels; learn about the importance of gels (filters) to astronomers; then analyze images taken with regular... (View More)

This is a lesson that applys occultations to Saturn's Moon Enceladus. Learners will establish whether Saturn’s small moon, Enceladus, has an atmosphere, whether that atmosphere is over the entire planet, and what creates Saturn’s E-ring. The... (View More)

This is a lesson about determining planetary composition. Learners will use a reflectometer to determine which minerals are present (from a set of knowns) in a sample of Mars soil simulant. Requires the use of ALTA II spectrometers (which may be... (View More)

Learners will compare known elemental spectra with spectra of Titan and Saturn’s rings from a spectrometer aboard the NASA Cassini spacecraft. They identify the elements visible in the planetary and lunar spectra. The activity is part of Project... (View More)

In this activity, students build a photocell detector, and use it to detect different colors of light in a spectrum. Then they place the detector just outside the red region of the visible light spectrum and see that the detector detects the... (View More)