Journey to the deepest regions of space and wrestle with the cosmic giants called galaxies.
In "Galaxy Hunter," students can go online and use actual data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to study galaxies in deep space. Produced by the formal education team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., the interdisciplinary, Web-based lesson blends astronomy and math skills. A team of scientists, teachers, artists, and Web programmers developed the interactive lesson to bring the results of cutting-edge astronomical observations into the classroom. "Galaxy Hunter" is on the Amazing Space Website, http://amazing-space.stsci.edu. Amazing Space is a group of Web-based, interactive activities primarily designed for classroom use, from kindergarten through twelfth grade.
The galaxies that students examine in "Galaxy Hunter" are part of the Hubble "Deep Fields," the Hubble telescope's clearest, most distant views of the universe ever obtained. Gazing billions of years back in time, the Earth-orbiting observatory uncovered a bewildering assortment of galaxies in various stages of evolution.
Scientists used mathematics to unlock many galactic secrets hidden in the two deep fields. Now students can analyze the same faraway galaxies that dazzled astronomers and sample the types of galaxies found in the deep views. Then they can compare their samples with those of astronomers to determine whether the galaxies in the two deep fields are similar. Along the way, they'll learn about bias in sampling techniques and the role of sample variability in determining the optimal sample size. Based on their sample analysis, students will try to answer the same question as the astronomers who observed the deep fields: Does the universe look the same in the two Hubble deep fields? Scientists believe that the universe generally looks the same in all directions.
The lesson also includes a teacher guide that helps prepare educators to present the lesson in the classroom. In the guide, teachers will find "science background" information, which explains the galaxy types, the galaxy classification system, and how astronomers selected the Hubble deep fields. The lesson also adheres to the National Education Standards for grades 9 to 12.
When students are finished hunting for galaxies, they can try unscrambling the schedule for a Hubble telescope servicing mission. Although the Hubble telescope's Servicing Mission 3B is over, students can still play the role of a NASA scientist who plans the Hubble servicing missions. In "Be the Mastermind Behind the Mission," another online, interactive activity, students attempt to fix a mixed up order of events for the Hubble servicing mission. Their job is to place the schedule of servicing mission events, which includes spacewalks and the launch of the space shuttle, in proper order. The interdisciplinary lesson focuses on reading and technology skills, and is aimed at sixth- through eighth-graders.
"Galaxy Hunter" and "Be the Mastermind Behind the Mission" are available on the Amazing Space website at:
Formal Education Lead
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD
(Phone: 410/338-4798; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)