Science Investigations: Investigating Astronomy Teacher s Guide

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1 Teacher s Guide Grade Level: 6 12 Curriculum Focus: Astronomy/Space Duration: 7 segments; 66 minutes Program Description This library of videos contains seven segments on celestial bodies and related science. What Is a Scientific Investigation? (10 min.) What Are Scientific Measurements? (10 min.) The Scientific Method (12 min.) The Origin of the Moon (9 min.) Space Travel (8 min.) Mars (8 min.) Neutron Stars and Black Holes (9 min.) Lesson Plan Student Objectives Materials Procedures Discuss how scientists have learned about space through unmanned spacecraft and probes, manned space missions, and advanced telescopes. Create a mission report, a current example of space exploration. Discuss the advantages and limitations of different types of space exploration. Science Investigations: Investigating Astronomy video Internet access 1. After watching the video, ask students to consider ways scientists have learned about space. To guide the discussion, ask the following questions: How do we know about the different phases of the moon, and that they go through a 29-day cycle?

2 Teacher s Guide 2 How do we know that the sun changes position in the sky throughout the day and throughout the year? How do we know about the effects of microgravity on the human body? How do we know about the surface of the moon? How do we know about the atmosphere or Mars? How have we obtained evidence that liquid water once existed on Mars, or that ice exists there now? (For example, how do we know that there are sulfates in rocks on Mars?) How do we know about the varied landscapes on Mars? How do we know that stars go through a life cycle? How do we know where black holes exist? How did we detect the Crab Nebula? 2. Ask students to think about the forms of space exploration they discussed. How did humans first learn about the positions of the moon and sun? (By observing the sky from Earth) In modern times, much of space exploration has fallen into three major categories: Unmanned spacecraft and probes (Spirit and Opportunity Rovers) Manned space missions (Apollo Missions and the International Space Station) Advanced telescopes (Hubble Space Telescope) 3. Ask students to work with a partner and choose one form of space exploration to learn more about. Then have them research one current mission. They may choose an example from the video or from their research, such as the Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn or the telescope at the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The following Web site provides information on many NASA missions: NASA Missions 4. Have students prepare a mission report, which should include at least one image and address the following: The name and purpose of the mission The type of technology used Estimated duration of the mission What have scientists learned from this mission so far? What are the mission s limitations? 5. Have students present their reports to the class. End the lesson with a discussion about the three types of space exploration. What kinds of information does each one provide? What are the advantages and limitations of each kind?

3 Teacher s Guide 3 Assessment Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students work during this lesson. Vocabulary 3 points: Students participated actively in class discussions; wrote a thorough, engaging mission report that addressed all issues; included at least one interesting image. 2 points: Students participated in class discussions; wrote a satisfactory mission report that addressed most of the issues; included a satisfactory image. 1 point: Students did not participate in class discussions; wrote an incomplete or unclear mission report that addressed few or none of the issues; did not include an image. atmosphere Definition: The gases that surround Earth or other planets Context: Today the atmosphere on Mars is too thin and cold for liquid water to exist. black hole Definition: An object with a gravitational field so strong that light cannot escape; created in the collapse of a massive star Context: Scientists cannot see a black hole, but they can detect its presence by its gravitational pull on other objects. microgravity Definition: A condition of real or apparent reduced gravity experienced on orbiting space vehicles Context: Microgravity causes changes in the human body, including the nerves, bones, muscles, and bones. nebula Definition: A cloud of gas or dust in interstellar space Context: The Crab Nebula resulted from the explosion of a giant star in the Milky Way Galaxy. neutron star Definition: Extremely dense, compact star composed primarily of neutrons, formed from the collapsed core of a supernova Context: Neutron stars may measure only about 12 miles in diameter, but they have a mass equal to about one-and-a-half times that of the sun s. pulsar Definition: A rapidly spinning neutron star that sends out pulses of radiation at regular intervals; pulsars have extremely strong magnetic fields.

4 Teacher s Guide 4 Context: As the pulsar rotates, it sends out beams of light that are picked up on Earth periodically. space station Definition: An orbiting spacecraft designed for occupation by teams of astronauts or cosmonauts over a long period Context: The International Space Station is a facility designed to conduct research in an environment of microgravity. supernova Definition: A rare celestial phenomenon involving the explosion of most of the material in a star, resulting in an extremely bright, short-lived object that emits vast amounts of energy Context: A black hole forms when the material from a supernova collapses in on itself. Thematic Units Help your students evaluate and analyze what they view in the videos with the Essential Questions for each Thematic Unit. Energy What types of energy are found in space? How are they different from types of energy on Earth? How does a star s energy change throughout its life cycle? SEGMENT Neutron Stars and Black Holes What is a star? What is a black hole? How is a star s mass related to its life span? What happens when a star dies?

5 Teacher s Guide 5 Adaptation What adaptations have humans made to survive in space? What do humans need to survive? What adaptations would be necessary to live on Mars? SEGMENT Mars What is in Earth s atmosphere? What elements are essential to life? What technological adaptations would be required for humans to adapt to life on Mars? Classification What classification tools and terminology are used in the field of astronomy? Describe the different types of stars. How do the life cycles of each differ? SEGMENT Neutron Stars and Black Holes Inquiry Describe celestial bodies outside our solar system. Describe a star s life cycle. What is the relationship between a star and a black hole? What is scientific investigation? How is it applied to the study of astronomy? Why are the steps of scientific method important? What would happen if one step were omitted? Give examples of scientific inquiry and methodology used in the field of astronomy. SEGMENTS What Is a Scientific Investigation? When is scientific inquiry used in the real world? Who makes use of it?

6 Teacher s Guide 6 What are the essential steps of scientific inquiry? Why is each step important? The Scientific Method Pre-Viewing Question What is the scientific method? Post-Viewing Question Describe the scientific method the Wright brothers used to design and build the first flying machine. The Origin of the Moon Pre-Viewing Question What celestial body is Earth s closest neighbor? What is known about its composition and origin? Post-Viewing Question Describe four theories about the moon s origin. Which is most accurate? Space Travel Mars Pre-Viewing Question When did the first humans travel into space? Why? Post-Viewing Question What are the goals of space exploration? Do you agree with these goals? Pre-Viewing Question Where is Mars in relationship to the Earth? What do you know about its surface and climate? Post-Viewing Question What are some differences between Earth and Mars? Science and Technology What environment, tools, and standards are necessary for productive scientific work? How does information about the moon and other celestial bodies affect life on Earth? What advances in the field of astronomy have improved human life? SEGMENTS What Are Scientific Measurements? Why is accurate measurement important in science and the real world?

7 Teacher s Guide 7 What are some examples where accurate timekeeping and measurement are important? What other scientific measurements must be accurate? Space Travel Mars What environmental conditions make space exploration a challenge? How has the technology of space exploration changed in the past 50 years? What evidence on Mars would indicate that life once existed there? How are the Spirit and Opportunity probes helping scientists learn about Mars? What have they discovered? Neutron Stars and Black Holes History What technology is essential to the study of astronomy? What accomplishments in astronomy came about due to the Hubble Space Telescope? What does astronomy reveal about the age of Earth, our solar system, the Milky Way, and the universe? How does the study of astronomy help scientists make predictions? Why is this important? What are some scientific accomplishments in astronomy? SEGMENTS The Scientific Method What is the scientific method? Describe the scientific method the Wright brothers used to design and build the first flying machine. Space Travel

8 Teacher s Guide 8 Who was the first astronaut to travel into space? What are the major accomplishments of the United States space program in the past 50 years? What are its future goals? Academic Standards National Academy of Sciences The National Academy of Sciences provides guidelines for teaching science in grades K 12 to promote scientific literacy. To view the standards, visit this Web site: This lesson plan addresses the following science standards: Earth and Space Science Science as Inquiry Science and Technology Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) McREL s Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit link: This lesson plan addresses the following national standards: Science Earth and Space Sciences: Understands the composition and structure of the universe and the Earth's place in it; Nature of Science: Understands the nature of scientific inquiry Language Arts Viewing: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media Support Materials Related Lesson Plans You can find hundreds of lesson plans online at The following lesson plans work well with the video segments in this library collection. Black Holes: The Ultimate Abyss (grades 6 8) Heavens Above (grades 6 8)

9 Teacher s Guide Mars (grades 6 8) Telling Time by the Light of the Moon (grades 6 8) Understanding: The Universe (grades 6 8) Understanding: Space Travel (grades 9 12) Other Resources Develop custom worksheets, educational puzzles, online quizzes, and more with the free teaching tools offered on the Discoveryschool.com Web site. Create and print support materials, or save them to a Custom Classroom account for future use. To learn more, visit DVD Content This program is available in an interactive DVD format. The following information and activities are specific to the DVD version. How To Use the DVD The DVD starting screen has the following options: Play Video This plays the video from start to finish. There are no programmed stops, except by using a remote control. With a computer, depending on the particular software player, a pause button is included with the other video controls. Video Index This video is divided into seven segments; the total running time (TRT) is noted for each one. Watching all the segments in sequence is identical to watching a video from start to finish. To play a particular one, press Enter on the remote control; on a computer, click once to highlight a title and start the segment. Thematic Units This option groups segments by curricular units, indicated by video thumbnail icons. The themes are Energy, Adaptation, Classification, Inquiry, Science and Technology, and History. Slide Show A visual overview of the video with key imagery to use for discussion or analysis Standards Link Selecting this option displays a single screen that lists the national academic standards the video addresses.

10 Teacher s Guide 10 Teacher Resources This screen gives the technical support number and Web site address. Video Index I. What Is a Scientific Investigation? (10 min.) Scientific investigations involve observing, inferring, predicting, modeling, forming and testing hypotheses, and arriving at conclusions. Forensic science is one discipline that relies on these steps to solve crimes. II. What Are Scientific Measurements? (10 min.) Accurate measurement is essential to scientific practice. Measuring time correctly is important in laboratories and the real world. Seafarers and other navigators have long understood accuracy s importance. III. The Scientific Method (12 min.) Wilbur and Orville Wright followed a six-step scientific method to design the first flying machine. They identified a need, researched the problem, devised a solution, built a prototype, and redesigned it before they came up with the solution. IV. The Origin of the Moon (9 min.) Throughout history people have asked questions about the moon. Science has proposed at least four theories about its origin, but the collision theory reigns today. V. Space Travel (8 min.) Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space in Since then, 12 American astronauts have explored the moon, many have worked on the International Space Station, and others anticipate a day when technology makes long space journeys a reality. VI. Mars (8 min.) Mars, a source of great curiosity, is Earth s closest planet. NASA sent the probes Spirit and Opportunity to explore for water evidence that life may have existed there. VII. Neutron Stars and Black Holes (9 min.) The Hubble Space Telescope gives astronomers a clear view into the far reaches of the universe. Thanks to its powers, scientists have learned about the life cycles of giant and supergiant stars, pulsars, and black holes.

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