before you visitThe following activities are designed to help you and your students make the most of your visit to the Space Show.
Use this guide and online resources to plan your visit ahead of time. Give students directions before you arrive, since it can be hard to find space or quiet to communicate with the group. Information about school visits is available at http://www.amnh.org/education/schools/.
Elementary and Middle school:Compete in the Moon Olympics: Have students "play sports on the Moon" at http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/explorations/space/ (go to Level One) to learn about the effects of gravity on different worlds.
Your place in space: Ask your students where they live. Then ask what they would add to that address if they traveled outside of your city or town, your state, and your country. How about if they traveled into space? Visit http://ology.amnh.org/astronomy/inspace/index.htm to hear a song about our cosmic address.
Make your own sundial: Track the motions of the Sun across the sky the way people did in ancient civilizations. Plant a straight stick in the ground and, every hour, place a stone at the top of its shadow. Ask students to find true north (the shortest shadow). Try again in three months and see what's changed.
Two faces of the same force: Demonstrate the interrelationship between electricity and magnetism for your students. They'll see how to create a magnet using the flow of electricity through a wire, and, conversely, how a magnet driven through a coil can drive a current. Download the instructions at http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/activity/l14.pdf.
Middle and High school:Cosmic Calendar: Ask students to create a one-year calendar, and to fit milestones of cosmic evolution onto it, so they can understand the scale of cosmic time. (For example, if the Big Bang occurs at midnight on January 1st, the Sun is born on June 6th, and humans don't arrive until 11:58PM on December 31st.) A timeline of cosmic events can be found at http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/timeline/activity/.
Activate an asteroid! Have students visit the Science Explorations: Journey into Space website at http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/explorations/space/ (go to Level Two) to learn how the speed and angle at which an object approaches the Sun determines its fate.
How much fuel does the Sun need? Ask students to calculate how many nuclear fusion reactions must occur per second to keep the Sun burning as brightly as it does. How much hydrogen is consumed in the process? http://www.amnh.org/education/resources/rfl/
What if there were no Moon? Ask students to break up into teams and research how the Moon affects the Earth. (As an option, they could form three groups, one focusing on the geosphere, one on the atmosphere, and one on the hydrosphere.) After each group has presented its findings to the class, brainstorm about what Earth would be like if there were no Moon. Then, have students compare their theories to what the experts think at http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4786.
Explore the link between collisions and extinctions: There have been five major extinctions on Earth: the End Cretaceous (K-T), the End Triassic, the Permian-Triassic, the Late Devonian, and the Ordovician-Silurian. Break your class into five corresponding groups. Ask them to examine the evidence that experts use to determine which extinctions were related to impacts.