NASA/JPL Yardstick Eclipse Demonstration

This resource from NASA/JPL’s Night Sky Network includes a full description of the activity and materials needed to demonstrate how both lunar and solar eclipses occur. The printable document provided includes instructions for engaging students, and questions to ask in leading the discussion.

Materials for each group of 3-4 students are:

  • Yard (or meter) stick
  • 1″ ball (for the Earth)
  • 0.25″ ball (for the Moon)
  • two toothpicks
  • two binder clips

Alternatively, this setup can be done as a teacher-led demonstration.

Straw Rocket Craft

A fun activity for elementary-school aged kids. Straw rockets combine the crafty fun of cutting and coloring with learning about rocket propulsion.

The website linked from this resource page has instructions, and a printable rocket template.

Note: In our experimentation, we found that making the attached rocket tube about half the length of the rocket’s body, and attaching it close to the nose gave the best propulsion.

Pinhole Eclipse Viewer Handout

This handout is designed to have one page or the other printed single-sided. One page has six handouts per page and the other has eight per page.

The file is available in PDF format only.

What is an Eclipse? Handout

This handout is designed to be printed double-sided, and has two handouts per page. On one side are diagrams and brief descriptions of both lunar and solar eclipses. On the other side are lists of upcoming lunar and solar eclipses through 2020.

The file is available in both MS Word and PDF formats.

How Do Telescopes Work Handout

This handout is designed to be printed double-sided, and has two handouts per page. On one side is a brief comparison of refracting, reflecting, catadioptric, and radio telescopes. On the other side is a description of the purpose of telescopes.

The file is available in both MS Word and PDF formats.

Meteor Showers of 2018 Handout

This handout is designed to be printed double-sided, and has two handouts per page. On one side is a brief comparison of comets, asteroids, meteoroids, meteors, and meteorites. On the other side is a description of what a meteor shower is, plus a list of the notable meteor showers (with peak dates) for 2018.

The file is available in both MS Word and PDF formats.

Crash Course – Astronomy – 46: Everything, The Universe, And Life

This is the forty-sixth and final video of the Crash Course – Astronomy series, hosted by Dr. Phil Plait. This video describes the search for exoplanets and how we would be able to detect life on other planets. Phil describes why we are unlikely to be visited, and why electronic communication is much more likely.

Crash Course – Astronomy – 45: Deep Time

This is the forty-fifth video of the Crash Course – Astronomy series, hosted by Dr. Phil Plait. This video describes what astronomers and cosmologists think will happen in the deep future of the universe, stretching as much as 10^92 (100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) years into the future.

From the video description:

Table of Contents:

  • The Universe’s Days Are Numbered 0:32
  • Stars Eventually Die Out 3:02
  • Protons Eventually Decay 5:04
  • Bye-Bye Black Holes After 10^92 Years 7:49
  • With Death Comes Life 12:04

Crash Course – Astronomy – 44: A Brief History of the Universe

This is the forty-fourth video of the Crash Course – Astronomy series, hosted by Dr. Phil Plait. This video describes the beginnings of the universe from the big bang to the creation of the first atoms.

From the video description:

Table of Contents:

  • Mapping the History of the Universe Using Math and Observations 00:41
  • It Started With A Bang! 1:58
  • Rapid Expansion Smoothed Out Matter 4:55
  • Normal Matter Formed After 3-20 Minutes 5:12

Crash Course – Astronomy – 43: Dark Energy, Cosmology part 2

This is the forty-third video of the Crash Course – Astronomy series, hosted by Dr. Phil Plait. This video explains why cosmologists think that an unknown form of energy exists, that it makes up the majority of the universe’s energy, and of what it might consist. It also covers the expansion of the spacetime, and the consequences for the observable universe.

From the video description:

Table of Contents:

  • Majority of the Universe is Made of Dark Energy 4:35
  • Dark Energy Accelerates the Expansion of Space 3:42
  • We Think The Universe Will Expand Forever 5:20