High School students were to read Foundations of Astronomy Chapter 8: The Sun and watch Crash Course Astronomy #10 The Sun.
I downloaded a powerpoint file on The Anatomy of the Sun by Swinbourne University and changed it a bit for my class. If you click on the link above, it will download the original powerpoint file. I also added some slides from the Night Sky Network’s Space Weather Powerpoint . The Night Sky Network also has a script you can read along with the slideshow. There are activities that you can download as well, including some activity cards that you can print at home. I have some of the activities/toys mentioned on this website since I’m a member of our local astronomy club and help with educational outreach. If you have a local astronomy club, reach out and see if they will do some educational activities for your group.
I found Identifying Elements in the Sun using Spectral Lines on the Columbia University website. Students are given a section of spectra (see image below) with various lines marked with letters. The lines indicated by capital letters are already identified in the handout, but students have to figure out which elements are causing the lines labeled with lower case letters by looking up their wavelength in a provided table.
The second activity is yet another one I found on the Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0 DVD, Activity G3 The Sun’s Period of Rotation. It can also be found here. I had to print out a grid of latitude and longitude lines on transparencies that students could place on top of photos of the sun and record the position of sunspots. Unfortunately, we’re in the minimum of the sunspot
cycle so there weren’t any current sunspots for us to observe. The activity comes with photos of sunspots over a couple of days that student can use. By measuring the motion of the sunspots over a few days they can calculate the rotational period of the sun. This is a really nice activity because they aren’t not just learning about sunspots, but also learning how to identify a position on a sphere with latitude and longitude.
Lastly, I had a variety of magnets, including a model of the sun with magnetic sunspots (one of the astronomy club’s outreach items), that students could investigate with iron filings. I had iron filings in a ziplock bag and clear plastic cases with iron filings that came with old science kits.
I also showed the students an image of the sun today from spaceweather.com and watched a movie of a corona mass ejection (CME) that took place yesterday (not aimed at earth).
The middle school class did the same activities.
While searching the internet for activities I found the Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project with a lot of nice interactives. If you click on the image below it will take you to the blackbody interactive.
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