Space Science

With Linda Shore and Paul Doherty, at the Exploratorium, 5-6 November 2007.

Astronomy Survey questions

Handy Measuring Tool

Handy Measuring tool activity. Use your hand to estimate angular size.

The Moon Illusion, measure the size of the full moon on the horizon and overhead.

Size Constancy, Measure the angular size of a person at two different distances.

The Scale of the Earth Moon Sun System

Scale of the Earth. moon, Scale Model in Second Life, Sploland Plaza 175,75,25

Earth and Sun, Hole Punch earth.

Make a scale model of the motion of a low earth satellite, a geosynchronous satellite, and the atmosphere of the earth.

Earthwalk Activity by Eric Muller. Mark a scale model earth on a sidewalk.

Scale Models of Constellations and asterisms. Visit the 3-D Big Dipper in Second Life, Sploland (175,75,25)

The ten nearest stars, includes a second table with distances to the Bog Dipper Stars.

Movie of Big Dipper evolution,

Martian Calendar and clock. Design a calendar and a clock for Mars.

Mars size, explore the size of Mars relative to the earth using clay models.

Moon Size, model the moon using playdough

Self Centered Globe, Place an earth globe in sunlight and see a model of the sunlight pattern on the real earth.


Stomp Rocket: Pump up the pressure on a gas reservoir then press a release button to allow the pressurized gas to exert a force on a rocket.

How is this like a rocket?

How is it different from a rocket?

Investigate how the height of the rocket flight depends on the number of pumps.

Exhibit: Exponential pump.

Snack: Lori L Stomp Rocket,
Film Can Rocket, turn a film can into a rocket using baking powder.


Steer with Thrust

Forces produce accelerations. In the absence of friction the motion resulting from the acceleration continues unchanged until acted upon by another force.

Snack: Frictionless Airpuck, in the book Square Wheels.


Aim for Orbit: Try to launch the ball into orbit.

Motion CD Airpuck

Exhibit: Satellite Orbit Simulator,
Gravity Well explore orbits in a curved funnel.
Gravity Well Explainer, how does the gravity well exhibit model the inverse square gravity force of a planet?

Weight on other Worlds

Place the apples on the scale to feel the apple's weight on other world.

What Does Kate Weigh?

Snacks: Atmosphere Bar, feel atmospheric pressure by holding a steel bar over your hand.

Spin a Koosh, Model the equatorial bulge of the earth by spinning a koosh ball.

Web: Your Weight on Other Worlds. If earth weight is 1.0 then the Moon is 0.167, Mars is 0.38, Jupiter is 2.36


Living In Orbit

Space Gloves, Pressure Suit

Exhibits: Falling Feather, a feather and a penny fall with the same acceleration in a vacuum.
Water Freezer, Gas Model, Brownian Motion, No Sound Through Empty Space

Snack: Gas Model, use styrofoam balls in a cage to model gas laws.

Drop a slinky, A slinky in freefall lengthens just like an astronauts spine in freefall.


Plasma Sphere

Plasma Sphere Note, you can buy a plasma sphere at many science stores.

Glow Discharge, a DC electric current flows through a gas causing it to emit light, this is similar to an aurora.


Project Star spectrometer and portable fluorescent Lamp, also a neon lamp

CD Spectra Introduction, reflect light off a CD and learn to see the spectrum.

Spectra Explorations, Common light sources to look at with a spectrometer.

Project a Spectrum, use a diffraction grating and an overhead projector.
Project a spectrum using a CD, Use a CD to project a spectrum on a wall using an overhead projector.

Build a CD Spectrometer, use a cardboard tube or box to make a spectrometer based on a compact disk.
Spectra made with a peeled CD

Solar Brightness, Use a grease spot photometer to compare the brightness of the sun to that of a 100 watt bulb. (Solar Brightness #2)

Infrared Remote control, use a digital camera to see the infrared light from a television remote control.

Refracting Telescope

Exhibit: Light Island, model how a telescope works.
Touch the Spring, see a real image suspended in the air.

Snack: Light Box, build a box that produces rays of light. Then study how the rays pass through lenses to create images. (A more complicated light island.)

Web: Find images, use soda straws to find the location of an image made by a lens.

Find Images in a mirror, locate an image seen in a mirror.


Icy Bodies

Exhibit: Icy Bodies, Explore the Exploratorium Exhibit.

Snack: Icy Bodies, make a snack version of the exhibit with dry ice in a dark colored plant tray full of warm water.


Bicycle wheel gyro., How gyroscopes can be used to orient a spacecraft.

Momentum Machine, experience conservation of angular momentum by spinning around and then moving your arms and legs.

Scientific Explorations with Paul Doherty

© 2007

25 October 2007