Lesson Title: Vegetable Light Curves
In this activity, students will observe the surface of rotating potatoes to help them understand how astronomers can sometimes determine the shape of asteroids from variations in reflective brightness.
• Explore the correlation between the shape of a potato and variations in its reflective brightness.
• Investigate how astronomers can determine the shape of an asteroid from variations in its brightness.
• Design a simple device to rotate a potato on a stand.
Professional Development Training Module for This Lesson
Lesson Activities and Sequence
Vegetable Light Curves
Students will observe the surface of rotating potatoes to help them understand how astronomers can sometimes determine the shape of asteroids from variations in reflective brightness.
Keywords: asteroid belt, solar system, meteorites, small bodies, solar system formation, Dawn mission, rotation, albedo, reflectivity
National Science Education Standards, NSTA
Science as Inquiry
• An appreciation of "how we know" what we know in science.
• Understanding of the nature of science.
• Motion and forces.
• Properties and changes of properties in matter.
Earth and Space Science
• Earth in the solar system.