Investigating the Sun
In this WebQuest, students will conduct Internet research on the Sun. They will then answer some questions about the Sun based on their Internet research. They will investigate how energy from the Sun creates the climate for the existence of life. Students will learn about scientific illustration and apply their understanding to create a drawing of the Sun. Their project will include labeling and describing major features of the Sun.
While students are doing their Internet research, they will answer the set of questions provided. Each Web site has some of the answers to the questions, but several of the questions may require information from two or more of the web sites. Students should be able to compile information to answer the questions as they read through each Web site.
As students research the answers to the questions, they will also gather information to use as they create a scientific illustration of the Sun. Their illustration will show physical features of the Sun and will include descriptions of these features.
ObjectivesDescribe physical characteristics of the SunInvestigate how energy from the Sun affects EarthUnderstand the historical importance of scientific illustrationsCreate a scientific illustration of the SunLabel and describe the Sun's physical features on a scientific illustration
Students will use the Internet links provided to find out about the Sun. They will investigate physical features of the Sun, and learn about how energy from the Sun creates a unique environment for life on Earth.
Further research will lead students to investigate the historical importance of scientific illustration to scientific study. To demonstrate their understanding of how artists create these types of detailed images, students will create a scientific illustration of the Sun. Their Sun illustrations will include labels and descriptions of major physical features.
2-3 days to answer the set of questions and illustrate and describe the features of the Sun
As students progress through the list of Web sites, you may help them focus on what they need to know to answer the questions given. Several of the Web sites have links to other web sites with relevant information. If time allows, you may want to allow students to further explore topics related to the Sun. Students may want to look closer at NASA Web sites describing research projects devoted to studying the Sun.
Students will then continue with their Internet research to create a scientific illustration of the Sun. They should use their research as well as visiting additional Web sites and other resources to find more information in order to draw an illustration of the Sun. Their product should have the Sun's major physical characteristics labeled. Each of these features should have a written description to accompany it. Always supervise students closely when they are searching the Internet.
Encourage students to share their illustrations with classmates to compare illustration styles. Remind them that the accuracy of the scientific information is the major component of scientific illustration. Students should consider how to include the feedback they receive as part of their self-assessment of the project.
Have students review the rubric to understand how their final product will be evaluated.
You may assign 10 points to each of the 5 questions for a total of 50 possible points. Possible answers to the questions are given below. You may rate the answer to each question by the following scale: Excellent - 9-10 points; Very Good - 7-8 points; Good - 5-6 points; Satisfactory - 3-4 points; Poor - 1-2 points; and Unsatisfactory - 0 points.
Possible Answers to Questions about Investigating the Sun
Student answers will vary.
- Students should describe the photosphere, which is the surface of the Sun. It has a temperature of approximately 5,780 K. The photosphere is about 500 km thick, and is the part of the Sun where radiation and light escape from.
- Students should indicate that energy is produced by the Sun through nuclear fusion reactions. A brief description of nuclear fusion needs to be included. About 386 billion billion megawatts per second of energy is released by the Sun.
- Helioseismologists study the wave oscillations in the Sun and are researching the sound waves that the Sun produces.
- The Earth and Sun have an energy balance or an energy budget. This is also known as the radiation budget. This balance describes the relationship between energy coming to Earth from the Sun and the heat energy that leaves Earth and returns to the atmosphere.
- Illustrations have played a vital role in accurately communicating scientific information for hundreds of years. Leonardo da Vinci's illustrations of the human anatomy, created in the 15th and 16th century, are considered to be one example of how scientific knowledge has been precisely recorded. Students should provide other examples.
Evaluating the Scientific Illustration
Use the evaluation rubric or other means to assess each student's scientific illustration. Evaluation of the illustration should include self-assessment and teacher assessment. Students may want to base part of their self-assessment on feedback they receive from other students. Remind students that accuracy of the depicted content is the more important criteria for evaluating scientific illustrations than artistic technique.
Using information gathered from the Internet, students should be able to answer the questions given about the physical characteristics of the Sun. Students should be able to describe how the Sun's energy influences life on Earth. They will also learn about the history of scientific illustration. After completing their research, students should apply their learning to creating a scientific illustration of the Sun, which includes labels and descriptions of major features.