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For Teachers

FRAMING PATHWAYS TO ANSWERS: THE SCIENTIFIC PROCESS IN ACTION
STAYING COOL

Cooler in the Shadows

Grade Level: Pre-K - 1
Duration: 1 - 2 hours

Link to the complete lesson

Shadow
The shadow cast by Mars’ potato-shaped moon, Phobos. Courtesty of Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Lesson Summary

Students will make inferences about the cause of shadows by observing and making their own shadows in the sun. Many properties of shadows (such as heat and brightness of light) will also be identified firsthand as the students conduct simple experiments to observe changes that are comparable to those experienced by the MESSENGER spacecraft in its voyage to and around Mercury.

Essential Question

How does the amount of sunlight and heat change in areas that are shaded?

Concepts

MESSENGER Mission Connection

The generation of heat by sunlight is also why shadows are important for the MESSENGER mission to Mercury. Because the spacecraft will be very close to the Sun, it will receive much more intense sunlight than we get on Earth. To reduce the temperatures in the probes, a sunshade is included on the craft. The spacecraft is oriented so that the shade always faces the Sun, and the sensitive instruments used to make observations of Mercury are always in shadow.

Standards & Benchmarks

NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS

K-4 Standard D2b: Objects in the Sky

K-4 Standard B31: Light, Heat, Electricity, and Magnetism

BENCHMARKS FOR SCIENTIFIC LITERACY (AAAS PROJECT 2061)

K-2 Benchmark 4E