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Our Star
The sun is a star, a hot ball of glowing gases at the heart of our solar system. Its influence extends far beyond the orbits of distant Neptune and Pluto. Without the sun's intense energy and heat, there would be no life on Earth. And though it is special to us, there are billions of stars like our sun scattered across the Milky Way galaxy.

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  Explore the sun in 3D Videos Activities

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Dance of the Moon and Oceans
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth, Earth's Moon

Short Description: Students discover how the moon's gravitational pull causes the level of the ocean to rise and fall twice a day along most coastlines through this kinesthetic activity. They also consider what the Earth's tides might have been like if there were no moon.


Exploring Lunar Phases with a Daytime Moon
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth, Earth's Moon
Mission: Apollo (Earth's Moon), Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: This activity creates a model with the real Moon and Sun in the sky to help participants discover the real reason for the lunar phases.


Exploring Origins
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun
Mission: Genesis (Our Solar System)

Short Description: The goal of Exploring Origins is to help students understand the cumulative nature of scientific knowledge and technological advancements and to understand the theoretical basis for the Genesis mission. By exploring ideas about the origins of the solar system held by various cultures throughout the ages, students will gain an understanding that the Genesis mission is providing data to answer age-old questions.


Golf Ball Phases and Embroidery Hoop Eclipses
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth, Earth's Moon
Mission: Apollo (Earth's Moon), Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: In the first half, students explore the dynamics of lunar phases to develop an understanding of the relative positions of our Moon, Earth, and Sun that cause the phases of the Moon as viewed from Earth. Using a golf ball glowing under the ultraviolet light of a "blacklight" makes it easier to see the actual phase of the Moon.

In the second half, students adjust their orbits of their moons to gain a deeper understanding of eclipses.


Magnetic Sensor Measurements with a Graphing Calculator
Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Earth Science (Earth), InSight (Mars), Juno (Jupiter)

Short Description: This activity uses magnetic field sensors with the "Texas Instrument" Graphing Calculator and CBL to measure and plot magnetic fields. This allows the student to prove that magnetic fields decrease as the negative cube of the distance.


Magnetism and Electromagnetism
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Earth Science (Earth), Juno (Jupiter), MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: In this review of basic magnetism, students map field lines around bar magnets to visualize the magnetic dipole field, and create their own electromagnet using copper wire, battery and a pencil to learn that electric currents create magnetic fields.


Mapping Magnetic Influence
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), SOHO (Comets)

Short Description: This lesson is designed to allow your students to explore magnets and develop an operational definition of a magnet "field" and an operational definition for a magnetic "pole."


Morning Star and Evening Star
Grade Level: K-2
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Venus, Earth
Mission: Akatsuki (Venus), Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Students participate in a kinesthetic model that demonstrates that Venus is visible in the evening and morning sky.


Observing Where the Sun Sets
Grade Level: 3-5
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: This activity is for students to do at home. When they complete it, they will have created a horizon sun calendar much like ones that were used in many Native American tribes.


Paper Plate Education
Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Venus
Mission: Heliophysics (Sun), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: This activity by Paper Plate Education models why Venus' transits come in pairs that are eight years apart, followed alternately by spans of 121.5 years and 105.5 years.

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Dance of the Moon and Oceans
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth, Earth's Moon

Short Description: Students discover how the moon's gravitational pull causes the level of the ocean to rise and fall twice a day along most coastlines through this kinesthetic activity. They also consider what the Earth's tides might have been like if there were no moon.


Exploring Lunar Phases with a Daytime Moon
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth, Earth's Moon
Mission: Apollo (Earth's Moon), Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: This activity creates a model with the real Moon and Sun in the sky to help participants discover the real reason for the lunar phases.


Exploring Origins
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun
Mission: Genesis (Our Solar System)

Short Description: The goal of Exploring Origins is to help students understand the cumulative nature of scientific knowledge and technological advancements and to understand the theoretical basis for the Genesis mission. By exploring ideas about the origins of the solar system held by various cultures throughout the ages, students will gain an understanding that the Genesis mission is providing data to answer age-old questions.


Golf Ball Phases and Embroidery Hoop Eclipses
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth, Earth's Moon
Mission: Apollo (Earth's Moon), Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: In the first half, students explore the dynamics of lunar phases to develop an understanding of the relative positions of our Moon, Earth, and Sun that cause the phases of the Moon as viewed from Earth. Using a golf ball glowing under the ultraviolet light of a "blacklight" makes it easier to see the actual phase of the Moon.

In the second half, students adjust their orbits of their moons to gain a deeper understanding of eclipses.


Magnetic Sensor Measurements with a Graphing Calculator
Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Earth Science (Earth), InSight (Mars), Juno (Jupiter)

Short Description: This activity uses magnetic field sensors with the "Texas Instrument" Graphing Calculator and CBL to measure and plot magnetic fields. This allows the student to prove that magnetic fields decrease as the negative cube of the distance.


Magnetism and Electromagnetism
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Earth Science (Earth), Juno (Jupiter), MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: In this review of basic magnetism, students map field lines around bar magnets to visualize the magnetic dipole field, and create their own electromagnet using copper wire, battery and a pencil to learn that electric currents create magnetic fields.


Mapping Magnetic Influence
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), SOHO (Comets)

Short Description: This lesson is designed to allow your students to explore magnets and develop an operational definition of a magnet "field" and an operational definition for a magnetic "pole."


Morning Star and Evening Star
Grade Level: K-2
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Venus, Earth
Mission: Akatsuki (Venus), Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Students participate in a kinesthetic model that demonstrates that Venus is visible in the evening and morning sky.


Observing Where the Sun Sets
Grade Level: 3-5
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: This activity is for students to do at home. When they complete it, they will have created a horizon sun calendar much like ones that were used in many Native American tribes.


Paper Plate Education
Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Venus
Mission: Heliophysics (Sun), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: This activity by Paper Plate Education models why Venus' transits come in pairs that are eight years apart, followed alternately by spans of 121.5 years and 105.5 years.

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