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clouds of Jupiter

Physics Helps Alien Rain Stay In Shape

In this guide, students will learn how the laws of physics shape rain on other planets and explore how molecules interact within alien raindrops.

Sizing up alien rain

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.

Modeling molecules in alien rain

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.
erupting volcano

Shaking up Earth

In this guide, students will learn about the development of the theory of plate tectonics and discuss how scientific theories are formed.

Earth on the move

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “How the Earth-shaking theory of plate tectonics was born,” which explores how scientists formed the theory of plate tectonics. A version of the story, “Shaking up Earth,” can be found in the January 16, 2021 issue of Science News.

The hunt for other worlds

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.
star TYC 8998-760-1 with exoplanets

A Weird Solar System Cousin Makes Its Photographic Debut

In this guide, students will examine a photograph of a distant solar system, learn how astronomers captured the image and learn about the system’s inhabitants. Students will then discuss units of measure and create a scaled drawing of the distant solar system.

Capturing an exoplanet family portrait

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “This is the first picture of a sunlike star with multiple exoplanets,” which describes a young solar system 300 light-years from our own. A version of the story, “A weird solar system cousin makes its photographic debut,” can be found in the August 29, 2020 issue of Science News.

Why use units

To determine the purpose of units in science, students will identify and compare the units used for common outer space measurements with units typically used for Earth measurements. Then, students will think about the importance of using standard units versus relative values when describing data before creating a scaled drawing of exoplanet distances.

Phase changes: cloudy with a chance of iron rain

Students will use phase diagrams to explore how changes in temperature and pressure affect a substance’s phase of matter before applying the concepts to meteorology on Earth and the exoplanet WASP 76b.

Rover Peers Beneath Moon’s Farside

In this guide, students will explore the moon’s geology and learn how to display and interpret data through diagrams. In an activity, students will use their knowledge of Earth’s rock cycle to analyze data on rock samples.

Seeing into the moon

Students will answer questions about the Science News article “Rover peers beneath moon’s farside,” which details new geologic evidence that could help scientists understand why the lunar nearside and farside look so different.