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Online Explorations
Star Light, Star Bright
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Catch the (light) wave! Find out how color can be more than meets the eye.

Online Exploration: Star Light, Star Bright explores the nature of the electromagnetic spectrum. In this activity students will identify the different properties of waves and the relationship that exists between energy, wavelength, and frequency. Students will correlate images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and other astronomical instruments to the wavelength, color, and temperature information that can be found in the spectrum. Students will draw conclusions based upon data displayed in graphs.

Online interactive
6-9, but the material can be adapted for use in other grades at the teacher's discretion
How to use in the classroom

Online Exploration: Star Light, Star Bright can be used to introduce the concept of spectra and waves in the "Catch the Waves" section. The section called "Making Waves" allows students to discover the relationships among wavelength, frequency, and energy. The "Heating Up" section introduces the idea that everything emits electromagnetic radiation and allows students to discover the connection between the color of a radiating object and its temperature. The last section, "Stellar Encounters," is an application activity that asks students to practice what they have learned in the three previous modules.

Special features of this activity include "Light Facts" and "Brain Teasers," which can be accessed from the buttons on many of the individual pages. These sections have related facts and thought questions about the topic being developed. Both sections can be printed and used in a variety of ways. For example, students could select topics for homework assignments, oral reports, or independent research papers. Teachers may find that using selected topics from the 'Light Facts" and "Brain Teasers" sections is an interesting way to solicit new thinking about light and color.

For more suggestions about how to use this activity in the classroom, access the lesson plan by clicking on the Teaching Tips button found on the first page of the activity. A science background component (the "All About Light" button) contains information about light and color that may be used by teachers and students. Other resources (the "Light Links" button) include the images used in the activity and related web sites. Specific information about computer requirements (the "Computer Needs" button) can also be found on the first page of the activity. In addition, “How to prepare for an online ‘Amazing Space’ activity” provides tips for setting up and using this activity in the classroom.

Related materials

Amazing Space resources by topic: Electromagnetic spectrum/Light & color

Printable Parts

The printable images used in the activity are listed in the Grab Bag section, which can be found by clicking on "Light Links" on the first page of the activity.