Exploring the Solar System: Fun DIY Activities for High School Teachers & Homeschooling Parents
Welcome, high school teachers and homeschooling parents, to our DIY activity blog post that will engage your students in an exciting journey through the Solar System. In this post, we will introduce four hands-on activities that will teach and demonstrate celestial objects, satellites, and their significance in space exploration. Let's dive in!
Many, but not all, stars have planets orbiting, i.e. revolving around them. Those planets orbiting the stars form the planetary system of that star. Our Sun is also a star and our planet, Earth, is part of its Planetary System.
Satellite Is an object in space that orbits or circles around a bigger object. There are two kinds of satellites : natural (such as the moon orbiting the Earth) or artificial (such as the International Space Station orbiting the Earth).
Celestial objects orbiting the planets are known as Natural Satellites. Except for the planets Mercury and Venus, all planets in our solar system have satellites. The natural satellites are also known as the moons of that planet. In day to day language we callEarth’s natural satellite the “Moon”.
Artificial satellites are human-built objects orbiting the Earth and other planets in the Solar System. This is different from the natural satellites, or moons. Artificial satellites are used to study the Earth, other planets, to help us communicate, and even to observe the distant Universe. Satellites can even have people in them, ike theInternational Space Station and the Space Shuttle.
Practical Applications of Artificial Satellites :
Communication : Geostationary satellites are used for communication purposes. Distance telephone calls, telex, radio and TV broadcasts etc. The satellites used for communication purposes are called communication satellites.
(GPS (Global Positioning System): GPS is a satellite navigation system used to determine the ground position of an object. Today, GPS receivers are included in many commercial products, such as automobiles, smart phones, exercise watches
Weather forecasting : Artificial satellites are used for weather forecasting. This is done by monitoring various climatic factors like air pressure, air temperature and humidity .
Activity 1: Trilateration - Uniquely Locating a Point in 3D Space (Level 1)
- A board with a grid pattern
- three bars
- a thread
- iron pellets
- Introduce the concept of trilateration, a technique used to locate a point in three-dimensional space.
- Students will construct a simple trilateration setup by placing a board with a grid pattern in front of them.
- Three bars, each with a thread, are inserted on top of the board.
- The ends of two threads are tied with iron pellets, and the third bar has a magnet attached to it.
- By manipulating the bars, students will determine the unique location of the magnet based on the position of the iron pellets on the grid.
Activity 2: Trilateration - Simulation of Rescue Operation (Level 2)
- Stopwatch or timer.
Materials image (remove this text )
- Build upon the previous activity by simulating a rescue operation.
- Explain that rescue teams use trilateration techniques to locate individuals in need of help.
- In this activity, students will play the role of a rescue team.
- They will measure the time taken for signals to reach them from different points and use trilateration principles to determine the location of the distress signal.
Activity 3: Measuring Signal Travel Time from Satellite
- Foam board
- Small, medium, and long straws (for Activity 1: Straw Towers)
- Small, medium and big Rings (for Activity 2: Grouping Ring Counting)
Materials image (remove this text )
- Teach students about the role of satellites in communication and navigation systems.
- Explain how signals travel from satellites to Earth.
- In this activity, students will measure the time it takes for a signal to travel from a satellite to a given point on Earth.
- They will use observations of activity 2 and calculate the time based on the known speed of the signal.
- This activity demonstrates the importance of satellites in our daily lives.
How to communicate between 2 points on Earth which are not line of sight?
Before satellites, TV signals didn’t go very far. TV signals only travel in straight lines. So they would quickly trail off into space instead of following Earth’s curve. Sometimes mountains or tall buildings. would block them. Phone calls to faraway places were also a problem. Setting up telephone wires over long distances or underwater is difficult and costs a lot. With a network of communication satellites, TV signals and phone calls ae sent upward to a satellite. Then, almost instantly, the satellite can send them back down to different locations on Earth.
Activity 4: Building a Communication Satellite Model
- a light source
- and a receiver (e.g., a photodiode).
- Engage students in a hands-on activity where they create a model of a communication satellite.
- Using cardboard, mirrors, a light source, and a receiver, students will construct a simplified version of a communication satellite.
- They will explore how the satellite reflects and transmits signals using light, mimicking the process of communication between satellites and Earth-based stations.
Quick understanding pic
Counting in Groups
By incorporating these DIY activities into your lessons, you can bring the wonders of the Solar System to life for your high school students or homeschoolers. From understanding trilateration to exploring the role of satellites, these activities provide a fun and interactive way to learn about celestial objects and satellites. Inspire your students’ curiosity and spark their interest in space exploration through these engaging educational experiences. Enjoy the journey!
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