The year 2009 has been declared the International Year of Astronomy (IYA). This is to raise interest in astronomy four hundred years after Galileo made the first significant observations with a telescope. This activity is a simulation of one of the many discoveries that Galileo made. It is an example of the modern evidence-based view of science that really began with Galileo. By doing this activity you will share this understanding of science with large numbers of people all over the world who are also doing the activity.
Any group can do this activity together. This write-up offers choices for flexible presentation to a variety of groups. The instructions for the basic activity on pages 3-6 are simple. Teachers and group leaders without astronomy knowledge can successfully follow them. The rest of the material is background material and ideas for extending the activity and adapting it for different groups. The activity has been done successfully with mixed age groups and groups grade three through adult. These are some of the groups who should try this activity: school classes, after-school groups, families, home-school groups, scouting groups, and any other group that wants an authentic science learning experience.
Dr. John Erickson
Lawrence Hall of Science
Dr. Wil van der Veen
New Jersey Astronomy Center
Raritan Valley Community College