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Sun: Teachers

The Wonder of the Sun

Solar Eruption
Solar Eruption, Image courtesy of NASA

NASA has the latest information about current solar exploration and scientists' newest discoveries in their study of the Sun, complete with photographs and videos taken from satellites. Its Solar Exploration page features a terrific image gallery, a historical timeline, and news about heliophysics missions.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory watches the sun constantly. You and your students may have a hard time leaving these pages. Click on "SDO: the Sun Right Now" for amazing photos and videos of the most recent solar flares and eruptions.

The University of California, Berkeley, Space Science Laboratory has a wonderful collection of solar images and videos on subjects such as sunspots, flares, the solar cycle, solar wind, auroras, and the Sun's interior. You'll enjoy this!

Websites For Teachers

Illustrated Sun

You'll want to spend some time exploring NASA's site for educators. At its Wavelength site for space science education, you'll find a terrific collection of classroom activities to explore the size, energy, and actions of the Sun. There are resources for all grade levels, which you can sort by topic, learning time, and instructional strategies.

Stanford's Solar Center has an award-winning website with many multi-disciplinary, interactive activities and lessons based on the sun and solar science, for grades 2-8. Click on "For Educators".

NASA's Eclipse Site has some great resources for teachers and students celebrating our nearest star. Younger students can make an edible model of the Sun, while older students can download and play with real-time solar data. Check this one out!

SOHO, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, studies the Sun from its core to its corona and solar wind. The SOHO classroom has activities, lesson plans, and interactive presentations about the Sun for grades 3 and up. Click on "Students and Teachers" for more.

Solar Flare
Image courtesy of NASA

The Center for Science Education at UC Berkeley Space Science Laboratory sponsors Solar Week twice each year. Its website has online facts, games, activities, and live discussions with solar scientists.

Windows to the Universe, sponsored by the National Earth Science Teachers Association, has an excellent webpage for facts about the Sun and many links to more in-depth information. A good site for student research.

Drawing of the Sun

NASA's Space Place has abundant resources, including facts, activities, and photos, for you and your students to learn more about the Sun.

You can download and print Our Very Own Star, a storybook for K-2 students with facts and coloring pages. For grades 3-5 children, try the book Super Star Meets the Plucky Planet. This could also be done as a play or reader's theater.

Younger students may have fun acting out One-On-One With The Sun from the American Museum of Natural History's website. Stanford Solar Center also has an Interview with Mr. Sol for older students.

The Lunar and Planetary Institute offers facts and simple activities for young children that teachers can use.


Solar Flares

PBS Learning Media has a series of short videos, including "Characteristics of the Sun" and "Solar Eclipses." Support materials accompany each video.

National Geographic Kids has a 30-minute compilation of consecutive, engaging videos about the Sun and solar system that students in grades 3-6 will enjoy.

NASA's brief Sun For Kids video features students, teachers, and scientists introducing topics including solar weather, sunspots, coronal mass ejections, and solar satellites.

A series of Crash Course videos provide brief, engaging presentations on characteristics of the Sun, its life-giving influence on Earth, rotation and revolution, what we learn from observing shadows, and the way the Sun causes day, night, and seasons on the Earth.

Teachers will want to consider these video resources for classroom use. Scroll down to the "Science Videos and Lessons" section and take a look.

Lesson Plans

Corona, image courtesy of NASA

PBS Learning has developed a unit, "Our Super Star," for grades K-5. Students learn basic facts about the sun, model the mechanics of day and night, and utilize solar energy.

Eye on the Sky, in connection with the Center for Science Education at UC Berkeley Space Science Laboratory, is a terrific site with complete lesson plans for teaching a unit about the sun for 1st-4th grades. Activities, worksheets, and models are included. Start with the introductory video for teachers.

Take a look at NASA's Science of the Sun educator's guide, with lessons on the size and scale of the Sun, the Earth's revolution around the Sun and the reason for seasons, and understanding the Sun's energy. For grades 3-5.

Aurora lights

Multiverse, sponsored by the Center for Science Education at UC Berkeley's Space Science Laboratory, posts lesson plans for educators. Of particular interest are those about auroras and solar flares.

See the following links for complete lessons on these topics:

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