Teachers, invite a Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Ambassador into your classroom!
Class visits include an introduction to the SDO mission and a hands-on activity aligned with national and local science standards. Presentations typically last from 45 to 75 minutes depending on the lesson and class length. An SDO Ambassador would also be happy to visit your school on Career Day or at other school events!
Teachers can choose from a variety of lesson topics including kinesthetic astronomy, what causes Earth's seasons, electromagnets, sundials, magnetic fields of the Earth and Sun, spectrometers, and space weather forecasting. For more information or to apply, please see the SDO website.
Visits will be subject to the availability of a speaker and their ability to travel to your school. Currently only teachers in Washington, DC and Baltimore areas are eligible. Apply today!
What are the goals and objectives of your program element / activity?:
1) Communicate to the public the excitement and relevance of solar science, its influence on the solar system, and the discoveries of the mission. 2) Improve science literacy and knowledge, especially among under-served and under-represented communities.
What are the main impacts of your effort to date and how do they correlate to the project's goals and objectives:
Students responded to three items about what they learned on a five-point scale, with 1 representing really disagree and 5 representing really agree. Of the responses to the question “I learned why it is important to study the Sun and how it affects the Earth,” nearly all (98.2%) agreed or strongly agreed that they learned why it is important to understand the sun and how it affects the Earth. For the question “I learned new things about solar science today,” 98% agreed that they learned new things about solar science, and 92.3% indicated that they learned about the Solar Dynamics Observatory from the visit. Students responded to two questions about their engagement and interest in the presentations. 98.8% agreed or strongly agreed that they had fun while learning from the SDO Ambassador in the Classroom presentation and 93.3% indicated that the presentation made solar science interesting to them. Students responded to a question about what they most liked about the SDO Ambassador in the Classroom visit. The majority of students cited examples of active or hands-on learning as the best part of the visit. Third-grade students who participated in a presentation on sound liked an activity where they threw a “buzzing ball” to one another. Students attending presentations on the Venus transit liked seeing videos and images of the Sun and Venus. Students also commented on videos of sun storms. Many students commented that the best part of the day was “learning about the Sun.” Most grasped the key content of the presentation. Students attending presentations on sound commented on learning about sound waves and the Doppler effect, and “how pitch changes when it moves,” among other things. Students attending presentations on the Venus transit and the Sun learned that the Sun is made of gas, Venus rotates around the Sun, Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system and that the Sun has storms. Other things students indicated they learned included, “the Sun makes noise,” the Sun is very hot, and the Sun is white. Results from the feedback survey indicated that the presentations fit well with participating teachers’ curricula and helped to support science instruction. Teachers commented that the presentations fit well with standards related to conducting scientific investigations, sound, light and energy and space science at their respective grade levels. Teachers also commented that the presentations were a good way to introduce units on solar science, earth sciences and sound. Teachers responded to two questions related to the quality of the presentation. Teachers rated the effectiveness of the speaker in communicating with students to ensure understanding of the topic and engaging student interest on a 10-point scale with 1 representing extremely ineffective and 10 representing extremely effective. Responses on effectiveness of presentation in engaging student interest in topic averaged 9.77. Effectiveness of guest speaker in communicating to ensure understanding responses averaged 9.72. Both results indicate that teachers found these components very highly effective. Teachers responded to an open-ended question about what they found most useful or relevant about the SDO Ambassador in the Classroom presentation. Teachers especially appreciated activities that promoted active learning such as the “kinesthetic activities about Venus Transit,” solar viewing glasses, games, “the hands-in activity with the buzzing ball” and “explaining through experimenting about the pitch of sound waves.” Teachers responded to a question about how they would follow up with their students on the SDO Ambassador in the Classroom presentation. Teachers indicated that they would have students do research projects and presentations related to the topics, visit the SDO website, review the concepts and refer back to examples from the presentations, and have class discussions about what they learned.