Physics & Physical Science Demos, Labs, & Projects for High School Teachers

Posts Tagged ‘Planets

This year I wanted to include a unit on astronomy in my Physics classes. Rather than teach the material myself, I felt this was worth having the students do as a project. I broke the material into the following areas:

  1. The Earth
  2. The Sun & other stars
  3. Space Travel & Space Ships
  4. The Big Bang & Cosmic Evolution
  5. Inner Planets
  6. Mars
  7. Jupiter
  8. Saturn
  9. Outer Bodies (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Kuiper Belt, Oort Cloud)
  10. Telescopes
  11. The Night Sky
  12. Exosolar Planets & SETI

The order above is the order I wanted the material presented. While that didn’t work out because students were absent or unprepared, I developed the order so that the subject built on previous presentations. I will definitely keep it the order listed for next year.

Animation of Saturn\'s RingsEach group or individual had to do a Powerpoint presentation with at least 20 slides. I then gave them a presentation called “How to do a lousy powerpoint” where I did many things wrong to illustrate what NOT to do. It got a good laugh. I told them I wanted well researched information and lots of visuals, including movie files and simulations. To start them on the research path, I provided this page of links: recommended-astronomy-web-links

I had specific areas I wanted the students to include, so I helped them along by providing a sheet with suggested topics. Here is the word document: astronomy-outline-2

The handout is broken into the topic and suggestions specific to that topic. There isn’t a sheet for SETI because a couple of students asked to add it. They did a great job describing the different methods used to detect exosolar planets. The simulation below is a demonstration of the wobble method used to detect planets outside of our solar system.

Star and planet dancingStudents also had to provide a study guide for taking notes during the presentation and a quiz to be given the next day. I ran into problems with trying to fit two presentations and two quizzes into each class period. In the end, I randomly gave quizzes and they were allowed to use their study guides (as was the plan). I need to do something better here. I may up the requirements to 30 slides, then only have one presentation per class period. That would work out better for the quizzes.

No project of mine would be complete without the rubric: Astronomy rubric

Please add to this project by providing your comments.


What’s New in 2013/2014?

Every year brings a change, this one is no exception.

I will be picking up the sophomore honors Algebra II class to keep them separate from the juniors. This should help accelerate them and put them on a stronger track towards Calculus. Looks like there will be only one section each of Physics and Calculus, but still two of Robotics & Engineering.

Hot topics this year are going to be the Common-Core Standards, Standards-Based Grading (SBG), improving AP Calculus scores, and somehow adding Python, maybe as a club.

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