Please jot down or ponder your answers. 1. What causes seasons

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Please jot down or ponder your answers.
1. What causes seasons?
a. Earth is closer to the Sun in the summer and farther away in the winter
b. something else
2. How can you tell the difference between planets and stars?
a. planets are brighter
b. something else
3. What causes Moon phases?
a. Earth’s shadow
b. something else
4.What is Pluto?
5. What’s the difference between the Solar System and the Milky Way? How
many stars are in each?
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Explore the Universe: Astronomy Activities for the
Classroom and Beyond
Sally Brummel, Planetarium Coordinator, Bell
Museum of Natural History
[email protected]
612-624-8146
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Today's Goals:
1. To give you background knowledge of
astronomy so you are confident in presenting
the content and answering questions.
2. To demonstrate activities related to
astronomical misconceptions and other topics.
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ExploraDome
At your school
At the Bell Museum
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Please jot down or ponder your answers.
1. What causes seasons?
a. Earth is closer to the Sun in the summer and farther away in the winter
b. something else
2. How can you tell the difference between planets and stars?
a. planets are brighter
b. something else
3. What causes Moon phases?
a. Earth’s shadow
b. something else
4.What is Pluto?
5. What’s the difference between the Solar System and the Milky Way? How
many stars are in each?
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Life is not a multiple choice test!
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Standard 3.3.3.1 Sun and Moon
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Observe and describe the daily and seasonal changes in the position of the sun and compare observations.
Recognize the pattern of apparent changes in the moon's shape and position.
Standard 3.3.3.2 Solar System
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Demonstrate how a large light source at a great distance looks like a small light that is much closer. For example:
Car headlights at a distance look small compared to when they are close.
Recognize that the Earth is one of several planets that orbit the sun, and that the moon orbits the Earth.
Standard 8.3.3.1 Sun and Solar System
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Recognize that the sun is a medium sized star, one of billions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and the closest star
to Earth.
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Use the predictable motions of the Earth around its own axis and around the sun, and of the moon around the
Earth, to explain day length, the phases of the moon, and eclipses.
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Compare and contrast the sizes, locations, and compositions of the planets and moons in our solar system.
Standard 9.3.3.2 Solar System
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Describe how the solar system formed from a nebular cloud of dust and gas 4.6 billion years ago.
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Compare and contrast the environmental conditions that make life possible on Earth with conditions found on the
other planets and moons of our solar system
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1. What causes seasons?
a. Earth is closer to the Sun in the summer
and farther away in the winter
b. something else
Earth is tilted toward the Sun in a hemisphere’s summer
and away from the Sun in the winter. The higher Sun
produces more direct sunlight, which concentrates the
energy and heats more efficiently.
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2. How can you tell the difference between
planets and stars?
a. planets are brighter
b. something else
Planets do not twinkle, and move
among the fixed stars.
skymaps.com
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3. What causes Moon phases?
a. Earth’s shadow
b. something else
As the Moon orbits Earth, we see different
views of the Moon's sunlit side.
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Moon Phase Activity
Kinesthetic method
If your head is Earth with your nose as a mountain and the flashlight is the Sun, stand so
it is noon on "Mt. Nose." (directly facing light)
Stand so it is midnight. (facing directly away)
Stand so it is sunrise. (left shoulder pointed toward light)
Rotate until it is sunset. (half turn counterclockwise)
Add the Moon into the demonstration. Using the Moon graphic as a guide, determine
where in the Moon's orbit each phase occurs.
This activity demonstrates:
Half of the Moon is always lit by the Sun, but you can only see the portion of sunlit side
that is facing you.
You cannot see every phase at any time during the day.
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Moon Phase Activity
Kinesthetic method
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4. What is Pluto?
Most popular answer:
Not a planet
Second most popular answer:
A dwarf planet
What is a dwarf planet?
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What is a dwarf planet?
Dwarf planets are round like planets. And they
are smaller. But the space around them is full of
similar small objects.
The space around planets is mostly empty.
Dwarf planets can be in either the Asteroid belt
or the Kuiper belt.
Asteroids are made of rock and metal, Kuiper
belt objects are made of ice and rock.
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5. What’s the difference between the Solar
System and the Milky Way? How many stars
are in each?
The Solar System is the collection of the Sun and all the objects
that orbit it. The Sun is one of the stars in the Milky way.
The Milky Way is a galaxy, which is a collection of 400 billion stars,
along with gas and dust. We know of hundreds of other solar
systems in our galaxy: stars beyond our Sun that have planets.
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Earth-Moon Scale
Of the following objects, which two best represent the Earth-Moon size comparison:
Basketball
Golf ball
Tennis ball
Marble
Soccer ball
How far apart should the two balls be?
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Earth-Moon Scale
Of the following objects, which two best represent the Earth-Moon size comparison:
Basketball
Golf ball
Tennis ball
Marble
Soccer ball
How far apart should the two balls be?
Wrap string around basketball 10 times, about 30x diameter of the Earth.
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Scale Model Solar System
Approximation method
Using an arm’s length of register tape, each student will illustrate the relative distances between the orbits of
the planets.
1. Write “Sun” on one end of the paper strip and “Pluto” on the other end.
2. Fold the tape in half; this is Uranus. Label the strip.
4. Fold Pluto to Uranus; this is Neptune.
5. Fold the Sun to Uranus; this is Saturn.
6. Fold the Sun to Saturn; this is Jupiter.
7. Fold the Sun to Jupiter; this is the Asteroid Belt.
8. Fold the Sun to Asteroid Belt; this is Mars.
9. Fold the Sun to Mars; this is Venus.
10. Write Mercury between Sun and Venus.
11. What is missing? Write Earth between Venus and Mars.
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Scale Model Solar System
Approximation method
For younger students: do the activity without
introducing distance and units.
For older students: introduce the distance
measurement of “Astronomical Unit” and the
idea of approximation.
At this scale, the Sun would be less than 3
millimeters, and the planets would be
undetectable.
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Scale Model Solar System
Kinesthetic method
Divide students into groups of at least 8 and assign each a solar system
object. (Objects in italics are optional)
Have each pace off the number of steps corresponding to their objects in
a place such as a gym, football field, playground, etc. Each step = 1 meter
Sun: start
Mercury: 1 step
Venus: 2 steps
Earth: 2.5 steps
Mars: 4 steps
Asteroid belt: 8 steps
Jupiter: 13 steps
Saturn: 24 steps
Uranus: 49 steps
Neptune: 76 steps
Kuiper belt: 100 steps
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Scale Model Solar System
Kinesthetic method
For younger students: instead of requiring each step to equal 1 meter,
you can use one student’s step size as long as he/she keeps consistent.
This demonstrates the idea of relative scale.
For older students: calculate the scale to fit the area in which your class
will model the solar system.
At this scale the sun would be 1.3 cm (.5 inches) in diameter, Jupiter
would be just over a mm and the rest of the planets barely detectable.
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Scale Model Solar System
Web demonstrations
http://www.scalesolarsystem.66ghz.com/
http://www.davidjarvis.ca/dave/gallery/lg/star-sizes.jpg
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