Educator Features

Ancient Observatories, Timeless Knowledge
11.18.04
An image of Stonehenge with the sun setting in the background
Image above: This year's Sun-Earth Day theme will be a fascinating journey through time. Come and explore centuries of sun watching by a variety of cultures! Credit: NASA

Traditionally Sun-Earth Day occurs annually on or near the spring equinox. However, throughout the year there are many related events and activities such as webcasts and local happenings that highlight the current Sun-Earth Day theme.

Over the past six years, NASA's Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum has sponsored and coordinated education and public outreach events to highlight NASA's Sun-Earth Connection research and discoveries. Their strategy involves using celestial events, such as total solar eclipses and the Transit of Venus, as well as Sun-Earth Day during the March Equinox, to engage K-12 schools and the general public in space science activities, demonstrations, and interactions with space scientists.

In collaboration with partners that include the Exploratorium, Maryland Science Center, NASA CONNECT™, Sun-Earth Connection missions, and others, they produce webcasts, other multimedia, and print resources for use by school and informal educators nation-wide and internationally. They provide training and professional development to K-12 educators, museum personnel, amateur astronomers, Girl Scout leaders, etc., so they can implement their own outreach programs taking advantage of NASA resources. A coordinated approach promotes multiple programs occurring each year under a common theme.

The Ancient Observatory theme for 2005 will feature solar alignments with structures that mark the equinoxes and/or solstices. In partnership with the Exploratorium, Ideum, and NASA CONNECT™, NASA's Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum will produce video and webcast programming that will be shared with formal and informal education audiences nationally. The programs will feature several sites including: Chaco Canyon (New Mexico), Hovenweep (Utah), and Chichen Itza (Mexico). Many of these sites present unique opportunities to develop authentic cultural connections to Native Americans, highlighting the importance of the Sun across the ages. Sun-Earth Connection scientists, their missions, and research programs will be involved to share NASA solar research with diverse audiences.

Sections have been specifically designed for educators. Teachers will find lesson plans for grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Educators will also find other helpful Web resources and educational books that demonstrate how today's technological marvels in solar viewing were built upon the foundation left by our ancestors.

To enhance classroom lessons, visit the Multimedia Center where a variety of exciting materials including interactive children's books, multimedia viewers, games have been placed. There is also a new interactive timeline called, "Sun Watchers Through Time."

Now just sit back, fasten your seatbelts and enjoy this journey through time!

Sun-Earth Day Resources
Grades K-5
Grades 6-8
Grades 9-12

Sun-Earth Day Webcasts
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Sun-Earth Day Local Happenings
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