Sun and Space Weather

Exploring the Dynamic Nature of the Sun

Students develop an understanding of the dynamic and variable nature of the Sun by comparing and contrasting images that vary with respect to time, scale, or technology, and share their findings with peers. The class discusses the implications of the Sun as a variable force of nature and brainstorms a list of questions that have been raised by the comparison of images. During the following class period, the instructor facilitates a slide show to further student understanding of the dynamic processes of our Sun and offer explanations to student questions.
Sun and Space Weather

Feeling the Heat

Students learn about the urban heat island effect by investigating which areas of their schoolyard have higher temperatures. Then they analyze data about how the number of heat waves in an urban area has increased over time with population.
How Climate WorksSun and Space Weather

Looking Into Surface Albedo

This hands-on inquiry activity allows students to explore how the color of materials that cover the Earth affects the amounts of sunlight it absorbs using a simple model.
Sun and Space Weather

Photon Folks

Students learn that when light shines on an object, it is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through the object, depending on the object’s material and frequency (color) of the light.
Sun and Space Weather

Planet Magnet

  Students use iron filings to explore the magnetic field around a magnet and record their observations. Next, students apply their experience with the magnet to understand the magnetic field around Earth. Following their investigation, students summarize their findings.
Earth as a SystemSun and Space Weather

Raise the Roof on Urban Heat

Students use a simple model to explore how roof colors can impact the temperature of an urban area.
Sun and Space Weather

Sun Teaching Box

This Teaching Box will help your students learn to identify features of the Sun using images with "light" from different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Many solar features play roles in the eruption of space weather "storms", so knowledge of these features is a prerequisite for understanding and predicting space weather events.
Sun and Space Weather

Sunshine and Shadows

Students explore how shadows work and why they change through the day as the Sun appears to move across the sky by comparing their shadows at different times of the day and modeling with shadow puppets to see how the location of a light source changes a shadow.  
Earth as a SystemSun and Space Weather

Sunspots and Climate

Students identify sunspots on images of the Sun, discovering that the number, location, and size of spots are not always the same. During the first part of the activity, students make a graph that shows how the number of sunspots has changed over the past 30 years, discovering that there is a regular pattern to the number of sunspots (the 11-year sunspot cycle).
Sun and Space Weather

The Magnetic Sun

Students build a simple version of a magnetometer, an instrument capable of detecting areas that have strong magnetic fields. Students use their magnetometer and models of the Sun to investigate areas that have strong magnetic fields. Students examine images of the Sun to describethe features associated with the Sun's strongest magnetic fields and learn more about the features they have identified either through student research or teacher presentation.
How Weather WorksEarth as a SystemHow Climate WorksSun and Space Weather

The Systems Game

Systems thinking is an important concept across the Earth sciences. In this game, students either are a part of a system or serve as scientists tasked with observing and making sense of the system moving in front of them.
Sun and Space Weather

Waves of Energy More or Less

Students create and observe wavelengths at both high and low energy levels using safety glasses, rope, and a power drill.