In the School Projects section of Sun|trek, there are different types of projects, ranging from lesson starters to more challenging projects involving science, maths and ICT. Many of the projects cover material in the Earth and Beyond part of the National Curriculum, for example: Pinhead Solar System (this can get the students outside on the playing field), Basketball Earth and Measuring the diameter of our star with a metre stick (good for a sunny day). However, there are many other projects, such as the Lava Lamp Sun, which explores some ideas about solar convection. Several of the Sun|trek projects use REAL data from solar space observatories.
Here are some ideas for classroom activities. If you have any ideas which you would like to share with other teachers, please let us know.
Report by Birmingham Dark Skies Outreach and Sun|trek mission
A Summer Solstice Solar Party was held at the Cannon Hill Peoples (Dark Sky) Park on 20 June 2009.
Ishango Science Club after-school Sun-Trek mission held several sessions inspired by the outreach materials supplied by the Sun|trek team. The sessions were held in a City Centre school between two new Parks - entitled Moonlit and Sunset Parks.
Back at the Suntrek research base camp, we carried out the classic Solar UV Beads experiment!
We tested them out using different factor sun creams and noted the colours
eliminated by different levels of sun screen, before converting the beads into jewellery for inter-planetary trade....!
A plastic (cheap at $25, but reasonably robust) spectrometer can be purchased again from www.starlab.com.
STEREO - Make your own 3D glasses
Download this activity in PDF format (43KB)
Basic pattern for glasses (Download PDF (72KB))
Visit the Sun|trek STEREO pages
You can find some useful links and information on the NASA STEREO education pages compiled by Steele Hill
UV Beads are EXTREMELY popular, even with the older age group! These beads change colour in the sunlight (UV). You can test them out under different conditions (behind glass, with suncream etc.), make a spreadsheet and get the students to compare results. Supplier is Steve Spangler Science, UK agent the Commotion Group (www.commotiondistribition.com) (pack of 100 approx £6). Also, you can get a UV pen from a DIY shop and a UV light to show up the ‘invisible’ writing.
The wooden Sunspotter one is very robust, but a bit expensive ($350). You can purchase it from www.starlab.com. Cheaper ones (made of cardboard) can be purchased from Solarscope (www.opticsplanet.net/solarscope-brand.html) (about $60).
Sunspotters project an image of the Sun, so that sunspots can be seen and tracked daily. These can be compared with the daily images of the Sun on the SoHO website (http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/). A Sunspotter can also be used to measure the rotation rate of the Sun (approx 24 days) and that of the Earth.
Watch out for the Space Top Trumps in shops or online.
Solar Telescopes with a Hydrogen Alpha Filter
If you have enough funds your school could purchase a Hydrogen Alpha telescope, www.coronadofilters.com costing around $600.
This has a special filter that allows the viewer to use this telescope, NEVER look at the Sun through a normal telescope.
This Hydrogen Alpha telescope would enable your students to take some amazing photographs of the Sun, like the one below taken by a student (Jack Tench) at Neatherd High School.