Lesson 3: Tracking and tracing sunspots
This activity will require approximately three 30-minute classes
- 1 class period to introduce the concept of sunspots and the Tracking Sunspots applet
- 1 class period for the students to work with the Tracking Sunspots applet
- 1 class period for the closure activity using binoculars and white paper to observe actual sunspots
- Identify and use a variety of sources and technologies to gather pertinent information (e.g., use electronic and print resources or visit a planetarium to gather information on the visual characteristics of planets)
- Compile and display data, by hand or by computer, in a variety of formats including frequency tallies, tables, and bar graphs (e.g., prepare a diagram showing the orbits of the planets)
- Draw a conclusion, based on evidence gathered through research and observation, that answers an initial question (e.g., conclude that simulated flour craters are deeper and wider when the marble is heavier or is dropped from greater heights)
Work in groups of two using the Tracking Sunspots applet to determine the axial rotation rate of the Sun. Learn that the surface of the Sun is not solid, but rather a turbulent mix of gas, thus exhibiting differential rotation (some parts of the Sun rotate faster than others). Learn of the connection between sunspots and Northern Lights.
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Using interactive applet
- Visual arts
- Sketching sunspots
In this activity students will be using the Tracking Sunspots applet to investigate sunspots and the movement of the sunspots across the surface of the sun. Student will use the functionality of the applet to determine both linear and angular approximations to the rotation of the Sun. Through their investigations, students should be able to identify differential rotation. Students will also use the applet to determine the size of the penumbra and umbra of sunspots.
Materials and Resources
Nota : This page contains documents for which the access may require a particular software. If the software is not installed, you can download it and follow the instructions for installation.
- Using the Sunspots Applet - Teacher version
- Tracking Sunspots Applet (SWF format, 514 KB)
- Using the Sunspots Applet (PDF format, 415 KB) - Student handout
- Tracking Sunspots worksheet (PDF format, 22 KB)
- differential rotation
- solar flares
Developing the Lesson
Before commencing this lesson, teachers should become very familiar with the applet to ensure that they will be able to assist the students should the need arise.
- Once students have had sufficient time to work with the applet, the teacher should reassemble the class and begin the closure discussions
Reassemble the students and initiate a discussion as to the findings the students were able to interpret from their work with the applet. The teacher should then lead a discussion based on the following questions. Were all students able to detect differential rotation? Did students obtain significantly different results between linear and angular calculations? What was the largest sunspot the students identified?
|Working with the applet||Excellent participation and group work||Level of participation was adequate||Little evidence of work||Student was off-task most of the time|
|Completed WebQuest activity sheet||Evidence of excellent research||WebQuest is missing key components||WebQuest is of poorer quality||Evidence of very little if any research|
|Explanatory paragraphs||Paragraphs are very well written and offer insightful explanations||Paragraphs are decently written and explanations offer some insight||Paragraphs are poorly written and explanations offer little or no insight||Paragraphs were not done|
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