Students will discuss the purpose, benefits and challenges of using computer simulations in scientific research. Then, students will brainstorm a real-world issue that could be investigated with a computer simulation and think about how the simulation would work.
Students will answer questions about the online Science News “Greece’s Santorini volcano erupts more often when sea level drops,” which describes how a computer simulation revealed a hidden relationship between sea level and a volcano’s explosive history. A version of the story, “Sea level dips spur volcanic eruptions,” appears in the August 28, 2021 issue of Science News.
Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “How the laws of physics constrain the size of alien raindrops,” which explores a new model for rain on planets across the Milky Way. A version of the story, “Physics helps alien rain stay in shape,” appears in the May 8, 2021 & May 22, 2021 issue of Science News.
Students will compare and contrast rain on Earth with rain on other planets and practice drawing molecular structures of various rain substances to examine the substances' physical and chemical properties. Students will use that information, along with the planetary conditions needed to form rain, to create a short weather forecast for one planet.
Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “From Elvis worms to the Milky Way’s edge, these science stories sparked joy in 2020,” which summarizes Science News stories from 2020 that provided a happy distraction from the world’s worries. A version of the story, “Stories that sparked joy,” can be found in the December 19, 2020 & January 2, 2021 issue of Science News.
Students will research exoplanets and their properties and detection methods. Then students will use fictitious data to create a light curve of a transiting exoplanet and to calculate the exoplanet’s motion through its solar system.
Students will develop a design for an exploratory Mars mission to gather and study data about one aspect of Mars. The ultimate goal of the mission will be to gather data to help plan for a future human-crewed mission to Mars.