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McDonald Observatory: Classroom Activities & Resources

found in: science; preK-2; 3-5; 6-8; 9-12

McDonald Observatory: Classroom Activities & Resources  is a browsable collection of astronomy, physics, and chemistry activities in PDF format for K-12 teachers and students. The lessons and activities are aligned with Texas standards, TEKS/TAKS.

Shadow Play  ( PDF, 151 KB, 3 pgs.) In three activities, small teams of students (K-5) learn about the Sun’s apparent motion in the sky as they experiment with shadows. A sidebar describes the astronomical activities of the Pueblo Sunwatchers and Anasazi.

Modeling the Night Sky  ( PDF, 706 KB, 5 pgs.) This lesson is an extension of Shadow Play and includes more solar system objects and motions. In two activities, students (K-5) explore Earth and Sun's positions in relation to the constellations with a small model and then the motions of the Earth and inner planets with a larger classroom-sized model.

Telescope Technology  In four challenges, students (6-8) discover how and why astronomers design and use segmented mirror telescopes. Each challenge (segmented mirrors, arrays, alignment, and focus) is a separate PDF.

Sunspot Anatomy ( PDF, 596 KB, 2 pgs.) Students (6-12) learn the characteristics of sunspots and use scale to appreciate the size of the Sun’s magnetic events. Questions and answers appear on the same page.

Exploring Black Holes Students (9-12) use the Black Hole Encyclopedia and its set of six activities to gain answers to questions about the nature of Black Holes. The site supplies current data on black holes and includes a PowerPoint presentation and four movie files.


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