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Planetary Shields: Magnetospheres
Classrooms


In spite of the complexity of the topic of magnetospheres, it truly has something for every age. Students study magnets and magnetic fields at many different stages in their education; while young students often enjoy the hands-on exploration that accompanies magnetic activities, older students can be challenged with exploring the relationship between Earth's magnetic field and its relationship with the solar wind, auroras, and the atmosphere.

In addition to the activities below, check out the featured activity, Radio Jove, and be sure to submit photographs, artwork, music, or words of students enjoying this activity to Share Your Stories.

Activities

Grades K-4
For these grades, students will enjoy their own investigations into magnetism-testing which materials are magnetic, and possibly mapping out the magnetic field of a basic dipole magnet. It can be extremely difficult for many students to conceptualize the Earth's magnetic field at this age, so the topic should not be introduced until they are older. (Science Education Standards)

Activity Description
Exploring the Earth's Magnetic Field This is a workbook of 23 activities spanning the needs of K-12 teachers who want to discuss Earth's magnetism in varying degrees of detail. Chapter 1 contains 4 activities for elementary students. It includes web-based activities, and a variety of hands-on experiments with magnets and electromagnetism.
The Magnetometer Students build an instrument capable of detecting a magnetic field and magnetic polarity.
Dancing Lights Although children this age aren't prepared to learn about Earth's magnetosphere, they may be interested in the Northern Lights, which are caused by our magnetic field. Students explore the aurora through art and writing.


Grades 5-8
Students in this age group can apply their understanding of magnetism to a compass and the Earth's own magnetic field. They can begin to explore magnetospheres. (Science Education Standards)

Activity Description
Magnetic Globe Students use a magnet inside a small globe and clamped staples to model the magnetic field lines of the Earth.
Terrabagga Activity Using a Magnetometer This activity models real-world uses of a magnetometer instrument. Students will see how magnetic fields of the planets and moons are found.
Plasma Wars Students use iron powder to model the solar wind, moving under pressure created by a pipette, encountering and interacting with an enclosed magnetic field. 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.
Exploring the Earth's Magnetic Field This is a workbook of 23 activities spanning the needs of K-12 teachers who want to discuss Earth's magnetism in varying degrees of detail. Chapters 2-3 contain 6 activities for middle school students. It includes web-based activities, and a variety of hands-on experiments with magnets and electromagnetism.
The Classroom Magnetometer Students build and operate a simple magnetometer using a soda bottle and a bar magnet, and use it to monitor changes in Earth's magnetic field.
Auroral Magnetism from the Ground (Activity 7) Students analyze graphs to determine the range of magnetic changes at Canadian observatories.
The Solar Wind Tunnel: A Comet Borrelly Interactive Students compare their observations of the solar wind's interaction with magnetized planets, non-magnetized planets, comets, and asteroids, and record their observations online.
Mapping Magnetic Influence 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."


Grades 9-14
These grades can apply their understanding to measure and investigate data regarding Earth's magnetic field, and use radio data to examine the magnetic field of the Sun and Jupiter. (Science Education Standards)

Activity Description
Tracking a Solar Storm This is a pair of high school-level workbooks featuring advanced problems in mathematics and science that are based on experiments performed with the IMAGE satellite.
Space Weather Action Center 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.
Exploring the Earth's Magnetic Field This is a workbook of 23 activities spanning the needs of K-12 teachers who want to discuss Earth's magnetism in varying degrees of detail. Chapters 2-3 contain 11 activities for high school students. It includes web-based activities, and a variety of hands-on experiments with magnets and electromagnetism.
Mapping Magnetic Influence 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."
Magnetism and Electromagnetism 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.
Magnetic Sensor Measurements with a Graphing Calculator 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.
Magnetic Math This book contains hands-on exercises and math problems which allow students to explore magnetism and magnetic fields. The activities include drawing and geometric construction, and introduce students in the use of simple algebra to quantitatively examine magnetic forces, energy, and magnetic field lines and their mathematical structure.
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Last Updated: 16 Apr 2014