The Sun is a dynamic and active star. If you look at it with a telescope, or even with a pin-hole camera or special eclipse-glasses, you can see features on the sun that are moving and changing. (Remember you should never look directly at the sun!) Participants will make an edible model of the Sun's outer layers using cookies and toppings.
Participants observe changes in shadows over time. The activity also helps to develop a sense of the Earth's motion. Since this activity requires some passage of time for a noticeable change in shadows, it is best done at the beginning of an event or a series of activities so participants can revisit their tracings after a period of time. At museum or planetarium settings, this might be a good activity to set up at the entrance for visitors to do at the beginning and end of their visit.
The Sun gives off different kinds of energy: including heat, visible light, and invisible light in the form of ultraviolet (UV) rays. While the Earth's atmosphere protects us from most of the Sun's harmful UV rays, there is still an abundance of UV rays around us. This activity explores UV rays from the Sun and ways we can protect ourselves from these potentially harmful UV rays.
When discussing space weather or how Earth's magnetosphere protects us, we often see diagrams with lines wrapping around the globe. What are these lines? Can we see these lines if we were in space looking back at Earth? This activity lets us explore the magnetic field of a bar magnet and serves as a good introduction to understanding Earth's magnetic field. It is also a good way to demonstrate why prominences are always "loops".
Although this activity isn't a "make and take", it offers great hands-on exploration of how distance can affect the way we perceive the size of an object. It makes a good introduction to solar eclipse as well as Sun and Moon's sizes and distances from Earth. The idea behind this activity is very simple and the activity itself is easy to do, making it accessible even for young kids.
Parallax is used to measure distances to stars and planets in the solar system. You can see the parallax effect in action by holding your thumb out at arm's length and following simple instructions appropriate for all ages.
After completing the activities on these pages you will be able to make a necklace or keychain horizontal sundial. These sundials are fun, portable, and inexpensive. A complete necklace can cost as little as 30 cents! They make a terrific classroom activity for students of all ages, and also make wonderful gifts.