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Sun Activities
The lessons below are teacher-favorite lessons focused on the sun. For more search options or to search by other science target, missions and other criteria, visit our Fast Lesson Finder. You can also search by curriculum standards on our popular Curriculum Standards Quilts.


Sun Lessons:

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Dance of the Moon and Oceans
Grade Level: 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: 3-5, 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
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.


Plasma Wars
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Genesis (Our Solar System)
Short Description: Students use iron powder to model the solar wind. The student text introduces the idea of planetary diversity not only in the shape, size and strength of the planetary magnetospheres, but also in the types and sources of the high-energy charged particles that occupy them.


Space Weather Action Center
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: Imagine being able to monitor the progress of an entire solar storm from the time it erupts from our Sun until it sweeps past our small planet effecting enormous changes in our magnetic field. Now imagine being able to do all of this from your Space Weather Action Center (S.W.A.C.)! By following the basic steps in the Instructional Guide your class will soon be on its way to accessing, analyzing and recording NASA satellite and observatory data.


Spinning Does More than Make You Dizzy
Grade Level: 6-8
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Jupiter, Saturn
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), DSN (Our Solar System), Heliophysics (Sun), Webb Space Telescope (Our Solar System), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students investigate why the planets revolve around the Sun in the same direction and connect their formation to their motions in this simple demonstration.


The Goldilocks Planets -- Not Too Hot or Cold
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: Heliophysics (Sun), Spitzer (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Once you have discovered a planet, you need to figure out whether liquid water might be present. In our solar system, Mercury and Venus are so close to the sun that water cannot remain in liquid form. It vaporizes! For planets beyond Mars, the sun is so far away that water will turn to ice. Only in what astronomers call the Habitable Zone will a planet have a chance for being at the right temperature for liquid water to exist in large quantities on its surface!


The Transit of Mercury
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Mercury, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun), Mariner 10 (Mercury), MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: As seen from Earth, the planet Mercury occasionally passes across the face of the sun; an event that astronomers call a transit. From images taken by the Hinode satellite, students will create a model of the solar disk to the same scale as the image, and calculate the distance to the sun.


What Are We Made Of?
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Genesis (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students learn that elements are the basic building blocks of all things found on Earth and in space including water, the human body, the Earth, the sun, and the planets. By counting elements extracted from a simulated sample, students explore how the extraction of atoms from the Genesis samples help scientists have a better understanding of the abundances of elements from the solar wind. This hands-on experience helps students discover that the elemental abundances from the sun can be used as a baseline to compare with the diverse bodies of our solar system.


What Makes Day and Night?
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: In this demonstration of day and night, students learn kinesthetically as they take on the role of the Earth orbiting the rotating sun.


What Makes Shadows?
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: Students learn about shadows as they observe and draw the shadow of a classmate.


Why Do Eclipses Happen? What Is an Eclipse?
Grade Level: 3-5, 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: Using simple materials, participants create 3D models of the Earth, Moon and Sun and demonstrate solar and lunar eclipses.

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Last Updated: 5 May 2014