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For Educators

Here you will find a collection of multi-disciplinary, interactive exercises and activities based on the Sun and solar science, most geared to grades 4-12. Most of these have been aligned to science standards and approved by the NASA Product Review process.



The Stanford Solar Center has developed punch-out spectrographs suitable for grades 4-12. These are available for free, but you need to pay a small shipping/handling fee. To support the spectrographs, we have also developed a number of educational resources including PowerPoints, comics, videos, Check out the "Build Your own Spectrograph" activity below.

Spectrographs can be obtained through the non-profit group Astronomers Without Borders. For information: How to order spectrographs.

Want to inspire your students by using authentic solar data in your classroom? We have 2 new opportunities for you:
  • SDO Data in the Classroom . This series of research activities was designed for introductory physics and/or astronomy classes in community college, but could easily be adapted to high school. Students observe near-real-time images of solar activity, develop hypotheses relating to them, and produce their own videos to follow up on their research. Web-based. Received rave reviews from the students!
  • The people at Sun|Trek from the University of Cambridge hav developed a series of Suntrek Classroom Projects using Real Solar Data, based on imagery from the SOHO, SDO, and Hinode solar missions. These investigations are designed for grades 9-10 and focus on mathematics.
Want a scientific instrument for your classroom, so your students can collect and analyze authentic scientific data? Check out our SID Space Weather Monitors.

View Jay Pasachoff's second edition of his highly-successful Colors and Motions of the Sun video. Covers the role of eclipses and spectroscpy in studying the Sun, as well as solar telescopes and spacecraft. Nice introduction to solar science for grades 9-12.

Check out the awesome educational site Sun|Trek from the University of Cambridge! And try our adaption of their Classroom Projects using Real Solar Data (based on the SOHO, SDO, and Hinode missions)



Build Your Own Spectrograph
Students build a working spectrograph to study the nature of light. (Younger students use a prism to learn about the rainbow.)
Grades 2-4, 5-12
Experiment with UV-Sensitive Beads
Students use inexpensive UV-sensitive plastic beads to learn about "invisible" UV light - what it is, where does it come from, how we can detect it, and what effects does it have upon us and our Earth. Surprises await when using the beads on cloudy days.
Grades K-12
SID Space Weather Monitoring Instruments
High school students obtain working scientific instruments that detect solar flares when the flares disrupt the Earth's ionosphere. Extensive supporting materials help students install their instruments and perform their own research. These instruments are part of the United Nation's International Space Weather Inititiative and are being placed all over the world. The Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA) is distributing the monitors in conjunction with the Stanford Solar Center. For more information, contact SARA at: SuperSID at Radio-Astronomy dot org
Grades 9-14
What Color is the Sun?
Teachers and informal presenters use NGSS science investigation processes to help participants discover and understand the color of the Sun.
Grades 4-adult
How Big, How Far, How Hot, How Old?
Can your students place a series of photographs in the correct order of how large the objects are? Or how far away they are, or how hot or old they are? This is a simple, intriguing activity that can be used to initiate discussion about astronomical objects. Tailor it to your needs.
Grades 4-adult
Scale Model of the Solar System
Need a dramatic way to help your students experience the vast distances and sizes of the Solar System? We address this issue on the large scale, building a model that could be placed throughout your community.
Grades 4-adult
What is Science?
An undergraduate friend of ours in India became very frustrated with his university's overly-rigid and rote approach to teaching science. His response was to develop a presentation for his class on "What is Science", at least to him. We found it compelling. Do your students have a good idea of what science is and why they are learning it? If you don't know, perhaps you could ask them to develop their own version of this presentation.
Grades 11-16
Hearing the Sun
Students hear the Sun by listening to sounds generated from acoustical waves on the Sun. An animated video is provided to visualize the acoustic wave generation (by large scale solar granulation). Hands-on activities are suggested for younger students and in introduction to helioseismology provided for older students.
Grades 4-12
Sun Track Model
Trouble teaching the solstices and equinoxes? This little device models the Sun's rising points, setting points, and track through the sky on days of the solstices and equinoxes. Best tool we've ever used to demonstrate this difficult subject!
Grades 4-adult
Solar Math
An outstanding collection of authentic mathematical challenges devised by NASA's Sten Odenwald. These problems introduce students to the use of mathematics in today's solar science discoveries and feature a behind the scenes look at NASA press releases and discoveries. Problems range from simple scaling and proportions to algebra and calculus. Our collection represents an extraction of math problems relating to solar science. For the full collection, that covers topics spanning all NASA science and engineering activities, see Space Math at NASA

Grades 3-14
Observing the Sun for Yourself
Learn how to build a pinhole camera, project the Sun, obtain and use a simple SunSpotter telescope, access remote telescopes, observing eclipses, sketch sunpots, and more. Chosen as an NSTA SciLinks activity.
Grades K-14
The Spinning Sun
Students determine the solar rotation period by using solar data to estimate, or using angular velocity to compute, the Sun's rotation rate. Chosen as an NSTA SciLinks activity.
Grades 6-14
Are Sunspots Really on the Sun?
Students measure sunspot speeds and shapes across the solar disc to determine whether the spots are on the Sun or are planets revolving around it (Galileo's dilemma). Includes pointer to hands-on demonstration of concepts.
Grades 5-12
Proving a Sun-centered Solar System
This activity is a low-cost method of demonstrating a heliocentric Solar System. It is also one of Galileo's observations using his telescope: the phases of Venus and its apparent diameter change, as it orbits the Sun. This was incontrovertible proof that the Sun was the center of our solar system.
Grades 2-5
Sunspot Races
Using daily solar images, students predict when spots will disappear or reappear from view on the solar disc.
Grades 3-5
Effects of the Sun on our Planet
Students experiment with plants, light, heat, and water evaporation. They experiment with solar cells to design a simple solar cooker, create a "solar-powered" method to perform a routine task, or build a parabolic solar collector. They explore radio signals during daytime and nighttime. Older students construct an ionosphere monitor to track solar storms and other changes in ionosphere
Grades 2-4, 5-8, 9-12
NOAA / NWS Education
This page from NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center has a section on Space Weather, reference papers, and a Classroom section with activities and accompanying reading materials.
SOHO Lesson Plans Ten lesson plans on NASA's website for the SOHO spacecraft. Topics include sunspots, solar rotation, magnetic fields, orbits, solar wind, and convection cells.
6 -12
An Interview with Mr. Sol
Students do some research on the Sun then, in pairs, generate an "interview" with The Star to determine how he (she?) works. An Example.
Grades 4-6
Solar Learning Activities
Sun-related, hands-on activities for teaching basic physical concepts of the Sun from Montana State University Solar Physics web site.
Grades 8-11
Our Star the Sun
Detailed lesson plans for elementary school teachers from the Project FIRST: Eye on the Sky website.
Grades 1-3
Retrieving Solar Images
Students are instructed to use the web every day to retrieve a current solar image. Subsequent activities will show the students how to use the data for scientific purposes.
Solar Music
Introduction to helioseismology -- Solar music. Encourages the students to realize you can learn about an object by listening to it, just as astonomers listen to the Sun's "heartbeat" to learn about its interior.
Grades K-3
Quick Quizzes
a. Understanding the Solar Scale
b. Galileo Challenge
c. Solar Granulation Quiz
d. Sunspot Quiz
Self-guided quizzes designed to assess current knowledge and intrigue students about the Sun.

Grades 6-8
Earth-based Solar Phenomena
Suggested questions and topics for research on ways the Sun affects our Earth. Touches on auroras, rainbows, sun pillars, the green flash, sun pillars, etc. Gives pointers for more detailed information. Primarily designed for individual exploration.
Grades 4-12
Make Your Own Sundial
An activity where students determine their latitute and construct a sundial.
Grades 4-8
Art Based on Science
Selection of images used to visualize or process scientific data. Images were chosen because of their visual appeal. However, class discussion could focus on techniques of data visualization and/or the physical properties described by the imagery. Have students develop imagery to describe their own (not necesssarily solar) data.
Solar Art, Literature, Poetry
Students are invited to generate and submit images, poetry, or literature inspired by the Sun or solar science. Submissions from students are displayed.
Multicultural Solar Interpretations
A selection of information about folklore, ancient astronomy, rock art, and other interpretations of the Sun's connection with Earth. Designed to introduce the notion of various cultural approaches to interpreting the Sun.
Global Warming
To what extent does the Sun's variability contribute to global warming? Students are given guidelines and places to start for independent research projects on the causes and effects of global warming.
Students will learn the basic principles of magnetism and how they apply to the Sun.
Walking an Analemma
This activity describes how you can plot the position of a shadow cast by the top of a pole (called a gnomon) at noon over the course of a year, to form a figure-8 called an Analemma. This is useful for teaching about how the Earth and Sun interact to make seasons.
Our Sun - Is it a Steady Performer?
Video 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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