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Spaceflight: Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade

  • Building an 8-inch Telescope

    Purchase an 8-inch reflector from Meade. The telescope can be disassembled down to individual screws, mirrors, supports, mount and tube. The parts can be given to teams of students who figure out how to put together each major telescope sub system. The teams then integrate each of the parts they built into a functioning telescope. In ASAC trials, the telescope was assembled in under one hour.
    Submitted By: Sten Odenwald, Holy Redeemer Elementary/Middle School Astronomy Club
  • The IMAGE Satellite Model

    Club members construct, from cardboard, a scale model of the IMAGE satellite from pictures on the NASA IMAGE web site, and draw exterior panel details. They then identify the different parts of the spacecraft and discuss their functions.
    Submitted By: Sten Odenwald, Holy Redeemer Elementary/Middle School Astronomy Club
  • Sending and Receiving Images

    Using glow tubes filled with hydrogen, oxygen, neon, argon, and nitrogen, and 35 mm diffraction gratings, students observe first hand that atoms have unique spectral signatures or "bar codes". Students then compare atomic bar codes with the ones on canned goods. A discussion of how astronomers can tell what stars and planets are made of follows.
    Submitted By: Sten Odenwald, Holy Redeemer Elementary/Middle School Astronomy Club
  • Alka-Seltzer Rockets

    Students build model rockets folding construction paper (they often like to color their rockets first) around 35mm plastic film canisters. They then take their rockets outside and experiment with different mixtures of rocket fuel (Alka-Seltzer and water) to see how high they can make their rockets fly. Students keep track of their rocket's performance in a table and later transfer the table values to a graph. This is a great activity for teaching data recording, plotting, statistics, and error analysis. (Students often quickly find out that they can get their rocket to fly higher by taking the paper off).
    Submitted By: Lou Mayo, Sligo Creek Elementary Astronomy Club
  • Quiz Show Game

    This game generates a lot of energy and enthusiasm! Students divide into teams. Each team picks a name. Then the club leader asks a series of questions on astronomy topics they have already covered. Teams get points for correct answers. A variation on this is having the teams make up their own questions. Additionally, teams can be supplied with text on astronomy as references. (Students love to hum the "Jeopardy" quiz show theme and make "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" jokes while the other teams are working on their answers).
    Submitted By: Lou Mayo, Sligo Creek Elementary Astronomy Club
  • Detecting Infrared Light

    Astronomers peer into the infrared to see molecular lines in atmospheres and stars as well as interstellar dust and protoplanetary disks. Students explore infrared light by aiming a TV remote control at a solar cell (e.g. from Radio Shack or Edmunds Scientific) attached to the input port of a small speaker. Solar cells are sensitive in the near IR so this becomes a cheap IR detector.
    Submitted By: Lou Mayo, Sligo Creek Elementary Astronomy Club
  • Herschel IR Experiment

    Sir Frederick William Herschel's famous experiment where he discovered infrared light can be easily replicated in your club.
       Instructions at:
    Cool Cosmos
    Submitted By: Lou Mayo, Sligo Creek Elementary Astronomy Club
  • Build Your Own Pinhole Camera/Projector

    Pinhole cameras are great for safely projecting an image of the sun to view sunspots and solar rotation.
       Instructions at:
    Submitted By: Lou Mayo, Sligo Creek Elementary Astronomy Club
  • Tips for Holding a Viewing Night

    I have one online article that may be of interest to ASAC newsgroup members. It is a general introduction and set of suggestions entitled "Tips for holding a viewing night" at:
    Submitted By: Rob Hollow, CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility
  • Rockets Galore

    We focus for an extended period of time on building our own staged rockets (using some Pitsco stock supplies). Once we have all achieved a successful launch we then focus on rebuilding making changes to improve our rockets. All members choose to pursue one of two goals: to maximize height or maximize flight time. This involved reducing materials to create a lower weight to thrust ratio or designing innovative parachutes and return systems. For those school not interested in using solid fuel rockets, this could be adapted for alka seltzer rockets or water rockets. It can also be expanded to run for an entire semester or year.
    Submitted By: Mary Margaret Callahan, Seattle Girls' School
  • Astronomy Screensaver

    It's a multi-facetted application that allows you to keep abreast of status reports, news and announcements of events taking place at ESA Science and the most recent near-real-time images from SOHO. I don't know of a NASA equivalent but many of the projects are joint with NASA. For those interested in Solar observations, there's less chance of missing exciting solar storms (like the one that's been going on for the last few days) because the screensaver updates its images whenever you're online.
    Download it here:
    Submitted By: Mike Cripps, Neatherd High School Astronomy Club
  • Outreach

    Most of the Orangevale Open Astronomy Club's activities focus on Outreach to local schools and to local organizations that want to hold a Star Party. We work with our local amateur group, Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society (SVAS). Our school has a ten inch Orion dobsonian and several binoculars, and our club members have about four telescopes, all together. Schools and organizations request Star Parties from SVAS, who then schedules the events.

    Before each event we spend some time at school talking about the best targets for the upcoming evening and the kinds of things we will tell the Party-goers. We spend some time with Starry Night software and a large projector picking targets that will appeal to the general public. Then we discuss typical misconceptions that the public might have and the clearest, simplest way to communicate a scientific understanding.

    My students also participate in the SVAS annual Astronomy Day at a local park. We've made demonstratio ns, posters, PowerPoint presentations and projects that we show at the events. Usually these presentations coordinate with California State Standards. We have a sun filter for our big telescope and make it available during the day of these events.

    Submitted By: Jim Carvalho, Orangevale Open K-8 School
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