“Project Spectra!” is a NASA Approved Product and has been developed with NASA funding. We offer teacher professional development workshops that incorporate lessons from “Project Spectra!” on a regular basis; please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
“Project Spectra!” is a science and engineering program for 6th – 12th grade students, focusing on how light is used to explore the Solar System. “Project Spectra!” emphasizes hands-on activities, like building a spectrograph, as well as the use of real data to solve scientific questions.
Here, you will find lessons for middle school students that can also be easily adapted for high school students or modified for elementary school students. Each lesson has a front page listing national standards in science and mathematics, prior knowledge students need for the lesson, materials, and time to complete the lesson. We have also provided tables listing national standards the lessons conform to, and a scope and sequence. We have included fun and informational links to explore the nature of light and spectroscopy further.
What is a Data Story?
A data story is an inquiry driven, standards-based lesson using real data from actual spacecraft! Each data story is a cogent, well-bounded story of solar system exploration that is accessible to students.
- Scope and Sequence (102 KB PDF)
- AAAS, NSES, and NCTM Standards (119 KB PDF)
- Suggested Units and NGSS Standards (88 KB PDF)
|Lesson name||Teacher’s packet||Student handout||Other materials|
|Patterns and Fingerprints||PDF (319 KB)||PDF (1.3 MB)|
|Graphing the Rainbow||PDF (3.3 MB)||PDF (1.4 MB)|
|Using Spectral Data to Explore Saturn & Titan*||PDF (5.1 MB)||PDF (2.1 MB)|
|Goldilocks and the Three Planets*||PDF (2.5 MB)||PDF (795 KB)|
|Building a Fancy Spectrograph**||PDF (401 KB)||PDF (479 KB)|
|Using a Fancy Spectrograph**||PDF (3.7 MB)||PDF (451 KB)|
|A Spectral Mystery||PDF (3.1 MB)||PDF (422 KB)|
|Designing an Open Spectrograph**||PDF (541 KB)||PDF (954 KB)|
|Designing a Spectroscopy Mission**||PDF (422 KB)||PDF (459 KB)|
|Marvelous Martian Mineralogy*||PDF (2.3 MB)||PDF (1.0 MB)|
|Star Light, Star Bright? Finding Remote Atmospheres||PDF (717 KB)||PDF (594 KB)||Occultations demonstration|
|Solving a Mixed Up Problem||PDF (1.3 MB)||PDF (446 KB)|
|Enceladus, I Barely Knew You||PDF (3.0 MB)||PDF (1.6 MB)|
|Planet Designer: What’s Trending Hot?||PDF (2.9 MB)||PDF (340 KB)|
|Planet Designer: Kelvin Climb||PDF (4.4 MB)||PDF (360 KB)|
|Planet Designer: Martian Makeover||PDF (630 KB)||PDF (300 KB)|
|Planet Designer: Retro Planet Red||PDF (640 KB)||PDF (310 KB)|
(* Denotes data story lesson; ** Denotes engineering lesson, Note: A “spectrograph,” is a tool used in spacecraft and modern telescopes that uses a detector to record properties of light. Technically, the students build “spectroscopes” where the human eye directly observes light. We consider the student to be the detector when they build their “space-worthy” spectrographs, but leave further explanation at the discretion of the instructor.)
- Light – A presentation for high school students (434 KB PDF)
|This interactive accompanies the Enceladus, I Barely Knew You lesson.||This interactive accompanies the Marvelous Martian Mineralogy lesson.|
|Explore the sun with the Features of the Sun interactive.||This interactive accompanies the Goldilocks and the Three Planets lesson.|
|This interactive accompanies the Explore Saturn and Titan with Spectral Data lesson.||Explore planetary surface temperature with the Planet Designer Kelvin Climb interactive (for high schoolers).|
|Explore planetary surface temperature with the Planet Designer: What’s Trending Hot? interactive (for middle schoolers).||Can you modify Mars to support liquid water? Find out with the Planet Designer: Retro Planet Red interactive (for high schoolers).|
|Can you modify Mars to support liquid water? Find out with the Planet Designer: Martian Makeover interactive (for middle schoolers).|
Teacher Workshop Materials
Presentations from past years’ teacher’s workshops.
- Spectroscopy and Astronomy (6.9 MB PDF)
- “Project Spectra!” Spectroscopy, Astronomy, and Engineering (18.3 MB PDF)
- UV Spectroscopy of the Saturn System (12.4 MB PDF)
Fun and Educational Links
- Mars Global Surveyor: Thermal Emission Spectrometer
- Cassini: Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) Instrument
- FUSE – Exploring Our Universe: From the Classroom to Outer Space
- Mini Spectroscopy Virtual Spectroscope
- Astronomy Camp: Spectroscopy
- Infrared Spectroscopy in Astronomy
- Science Lives!: Spectroscopy
- USGS Spectroscopy Lab: Planetary Spectra