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This is a math-science integrated unit about spectrographs. Learners will find and calculate the angle that light is transmitted through a holographic diffraction grating using trigonometry. After finding this angle, the students will build their... (View More) own spectrographs in groups and research and design a ground or space-based mission using their creation. After the project is complete, student groups will present to the class on their trials, tribulations, and findings during this process. The activity is part of Project Spectra, a science and engineering program for middle-high school students, focusing on how light is used to explore the Solar System. (View Less)

This is an activity about spacecraft radio communications. Learners will explore spacecraft radio communications concepts, including the speed of light and the time-delay for signals sent to and from spacecraft. Learners measure the time it takes... (View More) for a radio signal to travel to a spacecraft using the speed of light, demonstrate the delay in radio communication signals to and from a spacecraft, and devise unique solutions to the radio-signal-delay problem. In an extension, learners are asked to calculate the distance the spacecraft traveled. All NASA spacecraft missions have a telecommunications system and use radio waves to transmit signals. The context for this activity is sending a command to the New Horizons spacecraft telling it to take a picture of Pluto. Includes teacher background, adaptations, and student data sheets. (View Less)

This article describes an approach designed to decrease math anxiety and teach students about the use of mathematical symbols simplifying radicals. A deck of cards is used in a demonstration, and a problem set using real life examples to master the... (View More) use of radicals is included. This resource is from PUMAS - Practical Uses of Math and Science - a collection of brief examples created by scientists and engineers showing how math and science topics taught in K-12 classes have real world applications. (View Less)

This is a design challenge about heat transfer and insulation. Learners will apply the scientific method to design and build a container that will keep items cool when placed in boiling water. They will practice collaboration in team-building and in... (View More) teamwork. This is lesson 4 of 4 at the Grade 9-12 range of the module, Staying Cool. (View Less)

This is a detailed lesson about heat transfer and distance. Learners will design and conduct experiments to answer the question, "how does distance and inclination affect the amount of heat received from a heat source?" They will measure heat change... (View More) as a function of distance or viewing angle. From that experiment, they will identify how the MESSENGER mission to Mercury takes advantage of these passive cooling methods to keep the spacecraft comfortable in a high-temperature environment. This is lesson 3 from MESSENGER Education Module: Staying Cool. Note: the student guide starts on p. 24 of the PDF. (View Less)

This is a lesson about radiation and the use of the scientific method to solve problems of too much radiation. Learners will build snow goggles similar to those used by the Inuit (designed to block unwanted light, while increasing the viewer’s... (View More) ability to see in a bright region) to understand some of the engineering challenges encountered while protecting the solar cells on the Mercury MESSENGER. This is Lesson 2 of 4 at the middle level in the module, Staying Cool. (View Less)

This is a lesson about passive cooling methods. Learners will construct a simple device to measure how effective different materials are for protecting against sunlight, explain how heat relates to the motion of atoms and molecules, describe how... (View More) heat can be transmitted from one place to another, explain how sunlight arriving on Earth interacts with matter, and describe how MESSENGER is protected by a simple sunshade in the hot Mercurian environment. Materials required to do this activity include several commonly-found items (e.g., coffee cans, ice cubes, tape, ruler, calculators, stopwatch, and scale). This is lesson 3 of 4 at the Grade 9-12 range of "Staying Cool." (View Less)

In this activity, students solve exponential equations where the unknown is contained in the exponent. Students learn that taking base-10 or base-2 logs pulls down the exponent, allowing the unknown to be isolated and solved. This activity is... (View More) activity C3 in the "Far Out Math" educator's guide. Lessons in the guide include activities in which students measure, compare quantities as orders of magnitude, become familiar with scientific notation, and develop an understanding of exponents and logarithms using examples from NASA's GLAST mission. These are skills needed to understand the very large and very small quantities characteristic of astronomical observations. Note: In 2008, GLAST was renamed Fermi, for the physicist Enrico Fermi. (View Less)

In this activity, students construct base-two slide rules that add and subtract base-2 exponents (log distances), in order to multiply and divide corresponding powers of two. Students use these slide rules to generate both log and antilog equations,... (View More) learning to translate one in terms of the other. This is activity C1 in the "Far Out Math" educator's guide. Lessons in the guide include activities in which students measure,compare quantities as orders of magnitude, become familiar with scientific notation, and develop an understanding of exponents and logarithms using examples from NASA's GLAST mission. These are skills needed to understand the very large and very small quantities characteristic of astronomical observations. Note: In 2008, GLAST was renamed Fermi, for the physicist Enrico Fermi. (View Less)

This is an activity about planetary sizes and distances. Learners will construct a scale model of the Earth, Earth’s Moon and Mars in relation to each other using balloons. They will use this model to predict distances and reflect on how... (View More) scientists use models to construct explanations through the scientific process. The lesson models scientific inquiry using the 5E instructional model and includes teacher notesand vocabulary. (View Less)