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

Snow Goggles and Limiting Sunlight

Grade Level: 5-8
Duration: 1 - 2 hours

Photo of snowgoggles
Snow goggles: Narrow slits or holes limited the hunters’ field of view, but reduced the bright sunlight enough so that visibility on ice and snow was greatly improved.

Lesson Summary

Although different kinds of radiation are helpful to human activities, too much of it can be harmful. The purpose of this lesson is to illustrate the use of the scientific method to solve problems of too much radiation. By studying ancient solutions to the issue of excessive sunlight on human vision, we can better understand the process of designing solutions to similar problems for spacecraft, such as the MESSENGER mission to Mercury. Students build snow goggles similar to those used by the Inuit people. The goggles are designed to block unwanted light, while increasing the viewer’s ability to see in a bright region. Students also create their own version of the goggles to improve upon existing designs. Students compare the process used to invent snow goggles with that employed by the MESSENGER mission designers. As a result, they discover that the basic principles of using the scientific method for solving problems are the same, regardless of whether the exact solution to the problem is the same.

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Essential Question

How can the scientific method be used to solve different kinds of problems?

Concepts

MESSENGER Mission Connection

We need some sunlight to see, but too much may be harmful to our eyes. In a similar way, the MESSENGER spacecraft needs some sunlight to operate and to observe Mercury, but too much of it can heat it up and cause damage.

Standards & Benchmarks

NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS

Standard A1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry

Standard A2: Understandings about scientific inquiry

Related Standards

Standard E1: Abilities of technological design

Standard E2: Understandings about science and technology

BENCHMARKS FOR SCIENTIFIC LITERACY (AAAS PROJECT 2061)

Benchmark 4F2

Benchmark 11B3

Benchmark 12C5


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