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Activities for Students

You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him to find it for himself.
-Galileo Galilei

Tour through these topics to find exciting activities, images, interactive tools, text, and other resources to let you research our special star -- the Sun.

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Activity Categories:



 

Featured Activities:

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Comparison Activities - Updated
How big, how hot, and how far is the Sun? These activities are designed to introduce you to the solar scale by comparing the diameter, the temperature, and the distance to the Sun to familiar things on Earth.
colors and motions of the sun Colors and Motions of the Sun Video - New!
Streaming video "Colors and Motions of the Sun", created by Professor J. Pasachoff and Williams College, Massachusetts.
colors of the sun Colors of the Sun Video
Watch the streaming video of The Colors of the Sun, produced by the Stanford Solar Center and Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Lab.

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Quizzes:

Sunpot Quiz

Sunspot Quiz
These sets of questions test your knowlege of sunspots. Why are sunspots dark? How long is the sunspot cycle, on average? See if you can answer these questions and more with our sunpot quiz!

Granule Quiz
Solar Granulation Quiz
On this page we give bite-sized portions of some of the most fascinating aspects about the Sun, in the form of questions, that you can ask yourself to test your knowledge. Along the way, we point to sources for more information so that you can explore the topics on your own.
comparison activities thumbnail
Comparison Activities - Updated
How big, how hot, and how far is the Sun? These activities are designed to introduce you to the solar scale by comparing the diameter, the temperature, and the distance to the Sun to familiar things on Earth.
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Galileo Challenge
Galileo was one of the first and most important observers of the Sun. Why do you think these observations were important to Galileo and to the people of his time? Test your knowledge with our Galileo Quiz!

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Sunspots:

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Are Sunspots Really on the Sun?
When Galileo Galilei discovered sunspots, he had a problem. In 1612, he had pointed his new version of the Dutch tool called a "telescope" towards the heavens and found what appeared to be dark smudges on the Sun. How could this be? Find out how Galileo proved that they were spots on the Sun and not undiscovered planets circling the Sun.

sunspot races thumbnail Sunspot Races
Place your bets! Can you correctly predict when spots will disappear or reappear on the Sun?
Sunpot Quiz

Sunspot Quiz
These sets of questions test your knowlege of sunspots. Why are sunspots dark? How long is the sunspot cycle, on average? See if you can answer these questions and more with our sunpot quiz!

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The Spinning Sun
Does the Sun spin? If so, how fast? Find out by collecting solar images and then compare your sunspot sketches with those made by Galileo.

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Solar Music:

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The Singing Sun
Have you ever wondered what the Sun would sound like if you could hear it?
Our Sun lies 93,000,000 miles away, surrounded by the vacuum of space. Sound won't travel through space, of course. But with the right instrument, scientists can "hear" pulsations from the Sun.
Granule Quiz
Understanding Solar Music
The sun is filled with sound, and we can learn about its insides by studying this sound. In fact, this is the ONLY way we can learn about its inside because the light we see from the sun comes only from its outside.

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Viewing the Sun:

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Solar Images and Data
To discover various characteristics of the Sun, you'll need to observe it. Your "eyes" will be the SOHO spacecraft, currently circling the Sun about 1,000,000 miles from Earth. With SOHO's 12 specialized scientific instruments, we can explore everything from the Sun's glorious halo or "corona", to the violent magnetic storms on its surface, to the sound waves which help us understand the mysteries of the Sun's deep interior.
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Observing the Sun
There are several ways you can observe the Sun, and hopefully sunspots, for yourself. The easiest and safest is to project the Sun by building your own pinhole camera. Or, if you have your own telescope, you will need to obtain a solar filter. There are even solar telescopes online, which you can access via the web to observe the Sun.

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The Electromagnetic Spectrum:

the sun in ultraviolet light
What is Ultraviolet Light?
This activity explores ultraviolet light -- what it is, where it comes from, how we can detect it, and what effects it has upon us and our Earth.
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Build a Spectroscope
The visible spectrum is only a part of what our sun, a star, emits
within the electromagnetic spectrum. In this activity, you can build a working spectroscope to study the nature of light.
cereal box spectroscope
Cereal Box Spectroscope
How to make a very basic spectroscope using a diffraction grating and cereal box.

STEREO Learning Center

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Sundials:

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Make Your Own Sundial
Exploratorium activity where you can determine your latitute, find out how sundials work, and construct a working sundial.
Other Sundial Links
This page gives a comprehensive list of links to sundial related pages in the WWW.

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Other Activities and Exercises:

magnetic loops on the Sun

Magnetism & The Sun
This activity covers the basic principles of magnetism. Learn how they apply to phenomena on the Sun, such as sunspots, flares, prominences, and coronal mass ejections.

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Effects of the Sun on our Planet
In this activity, you can experiment with plants, light, heat, and water evaporation. Design a simple solar cooker, a "solar-powered" method to perform a routine task, or build a parabolic solar collector.
the Sun

Our Star the Sun
Aimed at elementary school students, the Project FIRST: Eye on the Sky website has a set of detailed lesson plans.

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Interview with Mr. Sol
Have you ever wondered what our star thinks about his (or her?) role up there in the sky? Have you considered what an awesome responsibility it must be, generating all that heat and light from fusion and having so many living beings depending upon you?
Sol really does light up our life. Imagine what he might say if you could interview him.
the Sun

Solar Learning Activities
Sun-related, hands-on activities for teaching basic physical concepts of the Sun.

rainbow sun
Quest for the Color of the Sun
This activity is a guessing-game approach on how an amateur astronomer might go about discovering the true color of the Sun - as it would appear to us if we went up into space.
Sun Lecture Title

Our Sun - Is it a Steady Performer?
Webcast of a lecture given at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, by Dr. Alan Title
Direct Link

If the movie frequently hangs with a "Buffering" message, it means the data transfer rate is slow. Try to Pause the movie, wait 20-30 minutes for data to transfer, then un-pause it. Or, try watching at a later time. (Or, possibly your internet connection is too slow).

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