Reflection: Lesson Planning Measuring the Diameter of the Sun - Section 3: Student Activity


I have used a version of this activity in science and in math. Students are able to perform this lesson as an extension to a science unit covering the Sun and the Solar System or they can use it as a math lesson that requires them to convert metric units needing only a minimum about of background knowledge. I would recommend meeting with your math department to ensure that your students have the necessary skills taught before you attempt this lesson. I have found that teaching the necessary skills yourself (right before the lesson) is not always a successful strategy. The students need repeated practice with conversion skills in a measuring system (metric) they do not have an inmate grasp on and a one-shot lesson in science is not always a meaningful expereince.

Several years ago I taught a combined math and science class over a double block of time. I sought out science activities that required math and math lessons that included science. This particular assignment covered both subjects superbly. I typically alternated units that were about science and had math imbedded within it to units about math that used scientific concepts. This way I was able to alternate my focus between math and science without stressing one subject unfairly. California went away from this type of teaching when we were required to improve test scores in dedicated subject areas. Now that that mandate has relaxed, I am hopeful that these sort of cross-curicular activity can be brought back into the middle school environment.  

  Can be used as a science or math lesson
  Lesson Planning: Can be used as a science or math lesson
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Measuring the Diameter of the Sun

Unit 10: Earth, Moon, and Sun
Lesson 1 of 3

Objective: Students will be able to calculate the diameter of the Sun using ratios.

Big Idea: Students will focus sunlight through a pinhole onto a sheet of paper. Knowing the distance between the projection and the pinhole allows students to calculate the diameter of the Sun using ratios.

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