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

Cooling with Sunshades

Grade Level: 9-12
Duration: Two to Three - 45 minute periods

Sir William Herschel
The MESSENGER spacecraft is equipped with a sunshade that is pointed toward the Sun at all times to keep the spacecraft components at a safe temperature.

Lesson Summary

In this lesson, students discuss some of the basic properties of temperature and heat, and learn different ways in which heat can affect substances. As an example, the students consider sunlight and how it can heat up objects on Earth. They construct a simple device based on the phase change of water from ice to liquid to investigate the effectiveness of different shading materials, as well as the cost-effectiveness of different shade designs. They discuss how the MESSENGER spacecaft uses a sunshade to keep comfortable at Mercury’s distance from the Sun.

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Essential Question

How can passive cooling methods keep an object at a comfortable temperature?

Concepts

MESSENGER Mission Connection

MESSENGER uses passive cooling methods such as a sunshade to make sure the spacecraft components can operate in safe temperatures.

Standards & Benchmarks

NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS

Standard B5: Conservation of energy and increase in disorder

Related Standards

Standard E1: Abilities of technological design

Standard F6: Science and technology in local, national, and global challenges

BENCHMARKS FOR SCIENTIFIC LITERACY (AAAS PROJECT 2061)

Benchmark 4E1

Benchmark 4E2

Benchmark 8B3


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