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Solar Science offers more than three dozen hands-on, inquiry-based activities on many fascinating aspects of solar astronomy. The activities cover the Sun’s motions, space weather caused by the Sun, the measurement of time and seasons in our daily lives, and much more. This is just the resource you need to get middle schoolers ready for August 21, 2017—the day when millions of North Americans will have the rare chance to witness a solar eclipse.
The authors are award-winning experts in both astronomy and science education, so they know just how to encourage students to work like scientists by asking questions, doing experiments, comparing notes, and refining and reporting results. They also know you have to make the most of every instructional minute. The book contains plenty of ideas for related writing projects; grade-appropriate math examples; and connections to music, art, fiction, and history. It’s also aligned with the three-dimensional learning encouraged by the Next Generation Science Standards and connects to the Common Core State Standards.
Solar Science is ideal for teachers, informal science educators, youth group leaders, curriculum specialists, and teacher trainers. You can use these versatile activities one at a time, as the basis of a stand-alone unit on the Sun, or as a comprehensive curriculum. You get to determine the best way for your students to learn a lot while having fun with the Sun.
About the AuthorsIntroductionChapter 1: Understanding and Tracking the Daily Motion of the SunLearning Goals of the ChapterOverview of Student ExperiencesRecommended Teaching Time for Each ExperienceNext Generation Science Standards CoveredConnections to the Common Core State Standards Content Background1.1 Cast Away: What Do We Think We Know? 1.2 Your Personal Pocket Sun Clock 1.3 Shadow and Sun Tracking 1.4 Modeling the Sun–Earth Relationship 1.5 Noontime Around the World 1.6 Pocket Sun Compass 1.7 High Noon 1.8 Write a Picture Book for Kids1.9 Where Is it Night When We Have Noon?1.10 What Do We Think We Know? Revisited Chapter 2: Understanding and Tracking the Annual Motion of the SunLearning Goals of the ChapterOverview of Student ExperiencesRecommended Teaching Time for Each ExperienceNext Generation Science Standards CoveredConnections to the Common Core State Standards Content Background2.1 What Do We Think We Know? 2.2 How Can This Be True? 2.3 Sun Tracking Throughout the Year 2.4 High Noon Throughout the Year 2.5 Reasons for Seasons Symposium 2.6 Height of Sun Above the Horizon and Length of Day Around the World2.7 Seasons on Other Planets 2.8 I Can’t Make It Come Out Even: Fitting Days and Years Into a Workable Calendar 2.9 Write a Picture Book for Kids 2.10 E-mail Response to “How Can This Be True?” 2.11 Reasons for the Seasons Revisited 2.12 What Do We Think We Know? Revisited Chapter 3: Solar Activity and Space WeatherLearning Goals of the ChapterOverview of Student ExperiencesRecommended Teaching Time for Each ExperienceNext Generation Science Standards CoveredConnections to the Common Core State Standards Content Background3.1 What Do We Think We Know? 3.2 Be a Solar Astronomer 3.3 Safe Solar Viewing: Project and Record Your Own Images of the Sun 3.4 Discover the Sunspot Cycle 3.5 How Fast Does the Sun Rotate? 3.6 Space Weather: Storms from the Sun 3.7 What Else Cycles Like the Sun3.8 The Multicolored Sun3.9 Student Detectives and the Ultraviolet Sun 3.10 Additional Ways of Observing the Sun Safely3.11 Space Weather Report 3.12 Predict the Next Sunspot Maximum and Minimum Chapter 4: The Sun, The Moon, the Earth Together: Phases, Eclipses, and MoreLearning Goals of the ChapterOverview of Student ExperiencesRecommended Teaching Time for Each ExperienceNext Generation Science Standards CoveredConnections to the Common Core State Standards Content Background4.1 Predicting How the Moon Will Look 4.2 What Do We Think We Know? 4.3 Observing the Moon 4.4 Modeling the Moon 4.5 Modeling Eclipses 4.6 How Often Do Eclipses Occur? 4.7 Why Do People Spend $10,000 to See a Total Solar Eclipse? 4.8 Does the Moon Rotate? 4.9 What Do Eclipses Look Like From a Space Colony on the Moon? 4.10 Lunar Phases Revisited 4.11 What Causes Lunar Phases and Eclipses?Index
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I had the pleasure to attend a webinar by the authors of the text. They walked the audience through several of the activities available to teach students about the upcoming eclipse in August 2017. I was amazed at how effective and easy the activities are to integrate!
Steven (Vernon, CT)
Solar Science is the first book on teaching astronomy that is fully aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. In fact, it not only provides very clear instructions on how best to teach key concepts and skills, it also provides wonderful examples of what it means to apply three-dimensional learning, which is one of the more challenging aspects of the new standards. What I found most compelling about this book, however, is that it strongly advocates that the best resource for learning astronomy is the real sky. Detailed instructions are provided for a wide range of observations that will help students connect what they are learning in your classroom with the real celestial objects that they see outdoors. The activities are strongly supported by educational research, and the narrative identifies the most common (and persistent) misconceptions to watch for. I must add that the beautiful design by the National Science Teachers Association makes this book a joy to read.
Cary Sneider (Portland, OR)
Excellent –a must-have for teachers and homeschoolers of grades 5-8. Extendable to high school as well.
The book includes dozens of hands-on / inquiry-based activities using readily available materials. Guided explorations intrigue students, getting them actively involved to explore then answer questions. Topics include a) understanding and tracking daily motions of the Sun, b) understanding and tracking the annual motion of the Sun and the seasons, c) how solar activity affects the Earth, and d) the Sun, Moon and Earth together – phases, eclipses, cycles, and more. All relate to disciplinary core ideas found in the Next Generation Science Standards. Explanations for teachers include how to have students use an astronomy lab notebook, using the Think-Pair-Share learning strategy, use of the 5 E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate) instructional model, integration of cross-curriculum resources, and how to personalize the use of the book for your class’s needs.
The book is gloriously illustrated and beautifully produced. The high-quality imagery from NASA completely engages both teacher and student. The activities chosen are the best-of-the-best, coming from years of experience and use. Personally, I have used many of these for years, in both my NASA education work and in a 4-H Astronomy Project (ages 9-19), with wonderful success.
A bonus with the book is a supplement about the upcoming Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017. Everyone in the US will be able to see at least a portion of the eclipse. This guide gives you most of what you will need to know to experience it.
I absolutely love this book! It is a great example of how science should be taught: not as a collection of topics and facts but rather questions, guided explorations, hands-on equipment, and generating conclusions based on data.
Stanford Solar Center
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