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Friendly aliens learn about the sun from your class in this well-developed webquest

Subject:

Science  

Grades:

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Discovering the Sun: A Webquest
By – Heather Little
Primary Subject – Science
Secondary Subjects – Computers / Internet
Grade Level – 6-12

Grade 8 Science Lab

The Mission:

Friendly aliens have recently contacted NASA and have communicated that the sun in their solar system is beginning to crash . Once our scientists got over the shock of communicating with aliens, they found out why they were speaking so urgently: they want to relocate to our solar system and want to know all about our sun. NASA has determined that this is low on their priority and so has asked our class to help the aliens. It will be your mission to gather as much information about the sun and report to the aliens as soon as possible.

The Standards:

By completing this mission, you and your teammates will have earned the esteem of your classmates who have come before you and the admiration of those who will follow. You will be able to join the ranks of others who have also earned the right to stand proud and say that you have met the following standards:

      Earth Sciences: Standard 4: The structure and composition of the universe can be learned from studying stars and galaxies and their evolution.
      Earth Sciences: Standard 5: Chemical reactions are processes in which atoms are rearranged into different combinations of molecules.
    Earth Sciences: Standard 9: Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations.

The Task:

Working in groups of 4, you will use the Internet to search at least 5 websites that give information about the sun. You will do this over the course of 3 class sessions. Each team is to have a captain (who will be responsible for time management and will oversee the organization of the material), navigator (who is responsible for searching the web), recorder (who is responsible for documenting the information once the team determines level of importance), co-pilot (who is responsible for assessing validity of the information). Roles may be switched on the different days. On the fourth day, your team will complete an analysis paper that utilizes the information that you gathered and prepare for a presentation that will happen on the fifth day. You must be prepared to answer questions that the aliens will ask! You should include images that represent your data, when appropriate.

The Questions:

The following is a list of questions that the aliens require answers to, though they may present you with new ones on the presentation day, so be prepared. Using the websites and their links listed below, find the answers to the questions. (Standards 4, 5 and 9)

      1. How old is the sun?

      2. What is the temperature of the sun?

      3. How far away is the sun from the Earth?

      4. What is the difference in temperature between the core and the surface of the sun?

      5. What is the chemical make up of the sun?

      6. What are the percentages of those chemicals?

      7. What are sunspots?

      8. When were sunspots first discovered and who discovered them?

      9. How are magnetic storms on Earth related to sunspot activity?

      10. What is the sunspot number for each of the days you did your research?

      11. How does the number of sunspots change over time?

      12. How are each of the following related to the sun: prominences, solar flares, corona, solar wind, chromospheres, photosphere,

      13. How does the sun get its energy?

      14. What is nuclear fusion?

      15. How can you safely observe the sun?

      16. What is an eclipse?

    17. When will the next eclipse occur?

The Rest of the Assignment:

Create a list of questions that you would like to ask the aliens. Your list should be at least 10 questions long and should include a hypotheses on why their sun no longer exists. (Standard 9) You are also assigned to create a 500 word essay in which you define the benefits and downfalls of our sun. You may use the answers to the questions to assist you in writing the essay.

The Resources:

Below you will find some web sites that will help you with your research. (Standard 9)

http://www.spaceweather.com/java/sunspot.html
http://www-istp.gsfc.nasa.gov/Education/whsun.html
http://www.telescope.org/btl/lc1.html
http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/eclipse.html

If you find resources, be sure to include them in your documentation resource list!

You can also use additional media to enhance your findings, such as the library, photographs, drawings, etc. Remember to be creative… just like your teacher, aliens like creativity. Good luck Earthlings!


For Teachers:

The Complete Standards:

Grade 8: Earth Sciences: Standard 4: The structure and composition of the universe can be learned from studying stars and galaxies and their evolution.

      a. Students know that the Sun is one of many stars in the Milky Way galaxy and that stars may differ in size, temperature, and color.

      b. Students know how to use astronomical units and light years as measures of distances between the Sun, stars, and Earth.

    c. Students know that stars are the source of light for all bright objects in outer space and that the Moon and planets shine by reflected sunlight, not by their own light.

Grade 8: Reactions: Standard 5: Chemical reactions are processes in which atoms are rearranged into different combinations of molecules. As a basis for understanding this concept:

      a. Students know reactant atoms and molecules interact to form products with different chemical properties.

      b. Students know the idea of atoms explains the conservation of matter: In chemical reactions the number of atoms stays the same no matter how they are arranged, so their total mass stays the same.

      c. Students know chemical reactions usually liberate heat or absorb heat.

      d. Students know physical processes include freezing and boiling, in which a material changes form with no chemical reaction.

    e. Students know how to determine whether a solution is acidic, basic, or neutral.

Grade 8: Earth Sciences: Standard 9: Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations. Students will:

      a. Plan and conduct a scientific investigation to test a hypothesis.

      b. Evaluate the accuracy and reproducibility of data.

      c. Distinguish between variable and controlled parameters in a test.

      d. Recognize the slope of the linear graph as the constant in the relationship y=kx and apply this principle in interpreting graphs constructed from data.

      e. Construct appropriate graphs from data and develop quantitative statements about the relationships between variables.

      f. Apply simple mathematic relationships to determine a missing quantity in a mathematical expression, given the two remaining terms (including speed = distance/time, density = mass/volume, force = pressure × area, volume = area × height).

    g. Distinguish between linear and nonlinear relationships on a graph of data.

The Learning Style Adaptations:

      For kinesthetic learners: The following experiment can be conducted to accompany lesson. I have performed this experiment with my students, though it works better in the summer.

        Materials: 2 glass jars with lids, 2 plastic thermometers, black plastic, waterproof glue.
        Experiment: Glue the black plastic to the inside of ½ the jar. Glue the plastic thermometer to the inside of the jar next to the plastic so that it can be read without opening the jar. Fill the jars with cold water, leaving about 1 inch for expansion. Close lids tightly. Take the class outside and place one jar in a shady spot and the other in direct sun. Jar should be propped so that the sun fully illuminates the inside of the jar. Read the temperature of the jar every 5 minutes for 30 minutes. Return to the classroom and have students graph the temperatures versus time for each container.
        Questions:

        1. What happened to the temperature of the jars? (Shady jar may have gone up or down slightly while the sunny jar rose several degrees)

        2. What caused the temperature changes? (Energy from the sun)

        3. Where did this energy come from? (Nuclear fusion).

      For logical/mathematical learners: Have students create a data table to record the average number of sunspots seen each day. Students should agree on the same time of day to gather and record the data. Have students make a pinhole in a sheet of cardboard and project the sun’s image through the hole onto white paper. The sun’s image will project onto the paper and students will be able to see larger sunspots. Have students compare how the average number of sunspots changed from day to day. Students can also access first web site above to identify the number of sunspots. Caution: Students should never look directly at the sun.
    For limited English learners: Terms in this lesson may be difficult or unfamiliar for students whose native language is not English. Since the terms are all descriptive, encourage students to use their word skills to divine the meaning. For example, have students break words like sunspot or solar flare into two parts. Allow the students to look up the words in the dictionary and have them use the terms to describe the sun.

The Grading Rubric:

      A (4 points)
  • All work is clearly labeled: student name, date, including assignment name/title.
  • Student is able to respond to verbal questions with authority and knowledge.
  • Written answers are in complete sentence form. The reader will be able to determine what the question is from the information contained in the answer.
  • Student answers exhibit thoughtful analysis and interpretation of information gathered from the readings.
  • Approximately 90%-100% of the questions are addressed as required.
  • Student’s work represents collaborative effort with team and each member completed each assigned role appropriately.

    B (3 points)

  • As above in A, except that student analysis and interpretation is not thoroughly supported by information from readings.
  • Approximately 80%-89% of the combined assignments are addressed and completed correctly as required.
  • Teamwork is in evidence but not throughout the duration of the assignment.
  • Student is able to answer verbal questions but lacks knowledge for the answers.

    C (2 points)

  • As in B except that approximately 71%-79% of the combined assignments are addressed and completed as required.
  • Evidence of poor teamwork on the part of the student.
  • Student is able to only answer verbal questions after looking up answers.

    D (1 point)

  • Work is not clearly labeled and assignment lacks information.
  • Student analysis and interpretation is not supported by information from the readings.
  • There is missing information in the question answers so that the questions are not readily identifiable by reading student responses.
  • Approximately 60%-69% of the combined assignment questions are addressed or completed correctly as required.
  • Student did not work as part of the team.

    F (0 points)

  • No work is handed in, or
  • Less than 60% of the assignments are addressed and completed as required

E-Mail Heather Little !

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