homepage, Astronomer's Education Notebook)
Teaching Resources / Activities
- Color Astronomy (my
favorite activity/demo) Secret code sheets (the originals
are copyright - I'm working on some),
looking at a spectrum through colored filters, and
looking at astronomy images through colored filters.
That's broad-band filter imaging, in the daytime, in the
- Blue Sky (why the sky is
blue during the day and red at sunset - needs a hot glue
stick, but not the glue gun.)
- World Sizes (planets, Sun,
large moons, a few others). Goes nicely with the scale
model of distances, below.
- Venus Topography Box (Similar to "sonar"
measurements of the "ocean floor" - very old
activity, but still fun and instructive. One of these
days I'll find the file and scan in the images... My
latest version uses thick wire to measure and a double
layer of plastic needlepoint mesh as the covers - with
paper stuck between the layers, so you can tell where
you've already measured, and can't see the surface.)
- Shape Exchange (algebra ideas)
A sort of solitaire, with several levels of play.
- Impact Cratering
(instructions for simulating craters - hardly original,
but useful. Also some additional
- Image Works (adapted from a
lesson by Cathy McQuone) Using NIH Image or Scion
ImagePC. I've also found I have another
version, but I've lost track of which one I was
trying to figure out for whom. Sigh.
- Moon Finder (adapted
from an anonymous source - I'm not sure where, and would
appreciate any leads so I can ask permission and give
credit where it is due). Cut out the two pieces, attach
the smaller just below the feet to the larger at the +
using a paper fastener. Remember, something on the
eastern horizon is rising, and something on the western
horizon is setting.
- World sorting (pick images and
sort them to learn about one scientific process. Or maybe
two or three. Beats studying scienific processes by the
usual succession-of-old-dead-white-guys, in my mind.)
- Orbit drawing (how to draw
ellipses that represent REAL orbital shapes, to combat
some distorted conceptions) - this one finally has some
diagrams. Feedback on the instructions would be
- Lunar Phase sorting
- print, slice apart, and put these 6 images of our Moon
in order...then observe lunar phases for a month to see
how well you did! (Based on an activity from Dennis
Schatz, but this one uses a NASA image of Moon and my own
editing to simulate phases. Sorry, that means the craters
don't show up as well, but there are other advantages.)
- Sun Finder UNFINISHED
at this point... (adapted from my favorite activity in
The Universe at Your Fingertips; original by J. L.
Snider; basic adaptation by Donna Governor, who figured
out how to make it do the Southern Hemisphere, too.)
Toilet Paper Models
Side note: why toilet paper?
- It's cheap and easily available.
- It can appeal to a sense of humor.
- It's pre-measured -- no need for a very long tape measure
or laying rulers end-to-end -- just count sheets.
- It's fairly precise over a long distance, and so is good
for those things which have both large-scale and
small-scale items, normally difficult to show on a single
- It's about the right length for a long hallway in a
school or other institution.
- The model can be made ahead of time in a small amount of
space (a table or such) and spread out later. This also
means it's fairly portable.
- It can be used several times (repair with tape, re-roll),
but is still easy & cheap enough to leave one with a
group and make a new one.
Created 13 July 1998, last revision 21 February 2001; copyright © 1998
by Elizabeth E. Roettger.