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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics


Step 1: Resources Listing

Create a research bibliography of 10 or more Internet\WWW resources containing information about the earth’s aurora. You will use these resources to learn about the earth’s aurora and other space physics topics.

If necessary, check out your school and local library for non-internet materials (books, magazine articles, pamphlets, filmstrips, videos, etc.) that also contain information about the earth’s aurora. Don’t forget about science textbooks or other reference material that may be in your classroom.

Use the “Resources Bibliography” format that follows to list your resources.

The Aurora Project

Resources Bibliography

  1. The Aurora: A Scientific Detective Story.
  2. The Aurora Watcher’s Handbook by T. Neil Davis.
    University of Alaska Press. 1992: ISBN 0-912006-60-9

  3. The Aurora Explained , a 30 minute video.
    University of Alaska Geophysical Institute, <>

Add ten more aurora resources that you discovered here


You can launch your aurora research by linking to:
Space Weather Resources

You can also hunt for WWW resources about the aurora. Try searching for: Auroras, Space Weather, Space Physics, Northern Lights, etc., by using any WWW “search engine” such as Google, Excite, or Yahoo.

Step 2: Auroraspeak

Assemble a list of 50 terms (words, phrases, or acronyms) that are unique to auroras. These Auroraspeak terms form the basic working vocabulary for your aurora project. You will probably use all of your Auroraspeak terms during the composition of the individual project steps that follow.

List each term followed by a brief definition or explanation for that term. Condense the definition of the term so that it fits on two lines of typing.

Use the format below to organize your Auroraspeak terms.

  1. Breakup:
    Spectacular display generated when a steady auroral arc breaks up into a finger-like pattern.
  2. Etc…

Step 3: Auroraseek Questions

Develop 15 or more Auroraseek Questions about the earth’s aurora obtained from your Internet\WWW and/or supplemental resources. These questions should be thought-provoking and open-ended in style (not Yes-No questions) so that they will stimulate others to investigate your project to discover the answers.

To get started, review your Auroraspeak list (STEP 2) and use these terms to create your Auroraseek Questions. You should read more of the materials you located in doing the research for STEP 1. If necessary, do some more “auroral research”. Be sure and think about the answers to each Auroraseek Question you create as you will need to supply an Auroraseek Answer (STEP 4) for each one.

Use the format below to organize your Auroraseek Questions:

  • Auroraseek Question #1:
    Where does the aurora borealis occur?
  • Auroraseek Question #2:
  • Etc…..

Step 4: Auroraseek Answers

Provide an Auroraseek Answer for each of the Auroraseek Questions which you created in STEP 3. Each answer must be complete, concise, and understandable. Make sure the number of your Auroraseek Answer matches with the number of your Auroraseek Question. Include an Internet\WWW reference (URL, ftp, etc.) or a library reference for each resource.

Use the format below to organize your Auroraseek Answers.

  • Auroraseek Answer #1:
    The aurora borealis only occurs in the earth’s northern hemisphere. (Reference: ( or Reference: (The Aurora Watcher’s Handbook: Reference Section, Milpitas Community Library)
  • Auroraseek Answer #2:
  • Etc…..

Step 5: Auroraspeak Match-Up Challenge

Choose 35 or more of the terms and their definitions from your Auroraspeak list to create a “Match-UP Challenge” that you will use to teach other people about the earth’s auroras. Be inventive: construct a crossword, design a board game, a picture-matching game, etc. Use ONLY black of dark blue colors on your “Challenge” items so that they can be easily phoptocopied. Do not identify any part of your “Challenge” as STEP 5.

Include the following items in your Match-UP Challenge:

  • An “Overview” that explains the purpose of your Challenge.
  • A set of instructions explaining how to use the Challenge.
  • The Challenge.
  • An Answer Key.

A sample Match-up challenge

Step 6: Personal Expertise

Identify 5 different occupations that you could contact in order to get more information about Auroras. What qualifies the people working in these occupations as “auroral experts”? Create an interview guide of 8 to 10 questions and interview two of your experts utilizing internet-based communications (Electronic Mail). Use the format below to record and report your Personal Expertise research information.

Use any WWW search engine such as Alta Vista or Excite to search for: Astronomers, Space Scientists, Space Physicists, etc.

If you are having trouble locating “experts” to interview, try linking to: Ask Dr. Geospace

			Personal Expertise

	Auroral Experts

	1.  Occupation:

	2.  etc.

	Contact Informtion

	  Name	        Email Address	   Source (WWW URL, Phone Book, etc,)

	Interview Questions

Step 7: Illustrated Quiz Cards

Using your Auroraspeak list and your Auroraseek Questions/Answers as a guide, design a set of 10 or more illustrated Quiz Cards using 13 X 18 cm. index cards. Each Quiz Card must contain at least one Internet-based graphic (picture, chart, graph, drawing, etc.) that you have created or obtained from your resources. The graphic serves as the basis for your Quiz Card question about auroras.

Use as few words as you can. Let your graphic “ask the question”. Place the answer to the quiz question on the back, center of the card. If you are creating a WWW page, allow for downloading the quiz card information.

Sample quiz card

Step 8: Briefing Booklets

Using your Auroraspeak list and your Auroraseek Questions/Answers as a guide, create 3 Briefing Booklets for your Auroral Learning Center. The booklets should be typed on half-sheets of paper and contain important information on different aspects of your auroral research. Each booklet must have its own unique title and be 2 to 3 half-sheets long. Include 4 to 5 questions at the end of the each booklet for readers to answer.

Using graphics in your booklet can make it easier for readers to learn and understand material. A series of linked WWW pages can be used in lieu of typed booklets.

Step 9: Adding a New Dimension

Using any materials not prohibited by your teacher, add a New Dimension to your Aurora Project by creating and constructing a three-dimensional model that depicts some aspect of the earth’s aurora.

Choose a title for your model and write a typed description of what you have created that fits within a 10.6 by 17.7 cm rectangularly shaped area.

Your New Dimension model will become part of your Auroral Learning Center. You may use parts from a commercial product, but you may not use an assembled model or a model made from a kit. Using animated graphics, video camera recordings, etc., you may create an original WWW graphic in lieu of a physical model.

Sample 3-D Model

Step 10: Research Report

Using your Auroraspeak list, your Auroraseek Questions/Answers, your Briefing Booklets, and your WWW and library resource materials you obtained as a guide, write a 6 to 7 page report which summarizes what you have learned about the earth’s aurora. Your report must be typed, double spaced, and include a Title page (see sample that follows).

Append your Resources Bibliography (STEP 2) to your report. A series of linked, WWW pages may be created in lieu of a typed report.

The Aurora Project Research Report

"Your Title"

A study of the Aurora

prepared by

"Your Name"


"Your Class Title"

"Your School"


"Your teacher"

Step 11: Title, Abstract, and Keywords

Choose an imaginative Title for your auroral research project. Also create a 100 word Abstract (a technical summary) based on your report. Lastly, select 10 “Keywords” that will help researchers to determine if your Research Report contains the kind of information they require.

Display both your Title, Abstract, and Keywords on your Auroral Learning Center using the format depicted below.




Step 12: Your Auroral Learning Center

Design and construct a 3 panel, free-standing, tabletop Auroral Learning Center which will display STEPS 1 through 11 of your auroral project so that others can benefit from your research. Your Learning Center’s height, width or depth should be no more than 1 meter.

Post attractive and significant information on the 3 upright panels using pictures, charts, graphs, drawings, photographs, etc. Make titles and key points large enough to be readable from 1 to 2 meters away. Choose colors that are appealing and attention getting. A series of linked WWW pages can be used in lieu of a free-standing tabletop display.

Sample learning center