PATHWAYS TO ANSWERS: THE SCIENTIFIC PROCESS IN ACTION
in the Shadows
PreK - 1
1 - 2 hours
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.
cast by Mars' potato-shaped moon, Phobos. Courtesty of Astronomy
Picture of the Day. http://apod.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap991105.html
How does the amount
of sunlight and heat change in areas that are shades?
- Sunlight and other
types of light form shadows.
- Shadows form because
light travels in straight lines.
- Light cannot pass
through some materials and this leads to the formation of shadows.
- Shadows can change
position and shape and size depending on the position of the
object in relation to the position of the light source.
- Darkness is the
absence of light.
The generation of heat
by sunlight ia 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 shadows.