The Sun-Earth Relationship
Teacher's Lesson Plan:
Earth Science: The Sun-Earth Relationship
An earth sciences lesson about the Sun, sunspots, solar cycles and the periodic effects of the Sun on the Earth, with an included worksheet.
One or many studentsObjectives:
- To become aware generally of the Sun, sunspots, solar cycles and the periodic effects of the Sun on the Earth.
- To comprehend the breadth of the Sun's impact on the Earth environment.
- To identify the main features and/or regions of the Sun.
- To become aware of solar cycle studies.
- To become familiar with the energy nature of sunspots.
- To become aware of the potential for negative effects from solar energy.
- To understand how Earth's atmosphere protects animals and plants.
- To appreciate historically the degree of difficulty in understanding the variable relationship between Sun and Earth.
Reading about the Sun, sunspots, solar cycles and the periodic effects of the Sun on the Earth.Materials:
Referring to charts and diagrams of periodic sunspots and solar cycles.
Class or group discussion about:
- The history of solar cycles.
- The range of the solar cycles.
- The breadth of the periodic effects of the Sun on the Earth.
- The main features and regions of the Sun.
- The energy nature of sunpots.
- The protective atmosphere surrounding Earth.
- The difficulties scientists and engineers have encountered in preparing for cyclical changes in systems on Earth as affected by the solar cycle.
After discussion and reading, individuals should complete a worksheet
For each student:Procedure:
- Access to the Internet via ISP and web browser
- Access to a science book or an elementary earth sciences or physical science text (optional or see online resources below)
- Worksheet (print the worksheet at the bottom of this page)
- Pencils, pens or markers
- Information, charts, diagrams and images of the Sun, solar cycles and sunspots (see online resources below).
Have each student:
"Sunspots Peak at Solar Maximum"
"Solar Tornadoes As Wide As The Earth"
"What Is a Space Weather Forecast?"
"Magnetic Fields Superheat the Sun"
"Learn More About the Sun and Sunspots"
Optional reading about spectrometers and the electromagnetic spectrum:
Read "Electromagnetic Spectrum and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory"
Read "Understanding Space Technology: Spectrometers"
Refer to these online resources:
In class or group discussion:
Exploring the Sun:
- Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
- Spartan 201c exploring the corona
- Earth Observer 1
- NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
- Space Weather News
The Sun and planets:
- Stellar, Galactic & Extragalactic Astronomy Ohio State University
- Sea of Galilee Astrophysical Observatory
- University of St. Andrews
- X-ray Astronomy High-Energy Universe Advanced X-Ray Astrophysics Facility Science Center
- Supernovas Goddard Space Flight Center Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics
- Black Holes Goddard Space Flight Center Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics
- Star Clusters National Geographic
- Constellations in the Night Sky National Geographic
NASA Marshall Space Flight CenterElectromagnetic spectrum descriptions:
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Dept. of Defense Joint Spectrum Center
Johns Hopkins University
University of Illinois NCSA Cyberia
Lakehead University Canada
Canada Centre for Remote Sensing
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center [Imagine] Measuring the electromagnetic spectrumElectromagnetic spectrum definitions:
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center [Legacy] The electromagnetic spectrum
Gondar Design Regions of the electromagnetic spectrum
Canada Centre for Remote Sensing Regions of the electromagnetic spectrum
University College London Bands of the electromagnetic spectrum
University of Illinois NCSA Cyberia All about spectra
Science Hypermedia Spectroscopy
Federal Standard Glossary of Telecommunications TermsElectromagnetic radiation explained:
National Telecommunications and Information Administration Electromagnetic Spectrum
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Electromagnetic radiationTools:
Science Hypermedia Electromagnetic Radiation
Students for the Exploration and Development of Space Electromagnetic spectrum calculator
Martindale's Physics Calculators
- Ask what sunspots are.
- Ask students to describe sunspots.
- Ask what the sunspot cycle is.
- Ask who discovered the sunspot cycle.
- Ask students to describe solar cycles.
- Ask students to compare the known solar cycles.
- Ask why we care about sunspots and their cycle.
- Ask how knowledge of solar cycles has been put to use.
- Ask how lack of precise understanding of sunspots affected the human population on Earth during the 19th and 20th centuries.
- Ask how recent understanding of the solar cycle and new knowledge of sunspot activity will benefit the human population on Earth in the the 21st century .
- Ask about the difficulty in understanding various regions of, and activities seen on, the Sun.
- Ask students to imagine how future human residents of Mars might have a different relationship with the Sun.
Have a student or students:
- Show where sunspots are on the Sun.
- Explain how we know there is a solar cycle.
- Discuss who the important discoverers and investigators of the sunspot cycle have been.
- Define the Sun, sunspots, and solar cycles.
- Talk about how human engineers have overcome the periodic effects of the Sun on the Earth.
- Differentiate among the various kinds of electromagnetic energy radiated by the Sun.
- Why it is so difficult to defend earthlings and their mechanical and electrical systems from the negative effects of solar energy overload.
- How Earth's atmospheric layers protect animals, plants and systems.
Have students identify in the right column of their worksheets the important Sun and Earth terms in the left column:
Worksheet A INDEX ASTRONOMICAL UNIT AURORA CHROMOSPHERE CORONA COSMIC RAY D REGION E REGION F REGION FILAMENT FLARE GAMMA RAYS GAUSS GEOMAGNETIC STORM GEOSYNCHRONOUS GRANULATION GREEN LINE H-ALPHA IONOSPHERE K INDEX LIMB LOOP PROMINENCE MAGNETOPAUSE MAGNETOSPHERE PENUMBRA PHOTOSPHERE PLASMA PROMINENCE QUIET RADIO EVENT SMOOTHED NUMBER SOLAR CYCLE SOLAR MAXIMUM SOLAR MINIMUM SOLAR WIND SUNSPOT GROUP SUNSPOT NUMBER UMBRA WOLF NUMBER X-RAY BURST
Appropriate answers for this worksheet can be found at www.sec.noaa.gov/info/glossary.html
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