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A TEACHER'S GUIDE TO PLASMA SCIENCE RESOURCES

Introduction | Basic Information | Plasmas in Nature | 
Man-Made Plasmas | Resources for Students | 
Resources for Teachers | Plasma Outreach Near You 

PLASMAS IN NATURE

A. Space Plasmas

1. General Info

Amazing Space: Although there is a lot of emphasis on Hubble, this site also provides good general astronomy content. There are some interactive activities, and useful tools and projects for teachers and students.

Astronomy for Kids, from the Kids Know It Network: This terrific site is full of information, interactive activities, targeted for students and teachers. Quoted from the sites description, "Every website developed is painstakingly researched for accuracy and appropriateness. This process begins with the planning and development of materials, activities, and articles by parents and educators, and ends with the final editing and approval of experts in the field being explored."

Astronomy Magazine: Astronomy is an online magazine providing monthly issues, which include science reporting, vivid color photography, complete sky-event coverage, observing tips, informative telescope reviews, blogs, features, sky events, and an "Ask Astro" link. It is a subscription magazine. However, you can find an abundance of information just visiting the site, which includes links to magazines dating back to 1973, providing a historical timeline for the field of astronomy. Although there are few references to "plasma," the site is an excellent resource for space science.

Astronomical Society of the Pacific: A resource for information, opportunities, photos, and power point presentations with instructor guides. The organization designs and delivers astronomy toolkits, programs, publications and education guides.

Cassiopia Project - Science videos: Excellent, interesting, and informative video clips that are available for students and teachers. However, no new video clips have been added since 2009.

Challenger Center: The Challenger Center for Space Science Education is a dynamic residential program for students to become immersed in using simulation and role-playing activities. The website provides STEM resources, including lesson plans developed by Christa McAuliffe, and more.

CHIPS, Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer: This satellite studies the Interstellar Medium (ISM), the plasma between stars. It studies the "Local Bubble." Contains many links and K-12 Classroom lessons.

Cosmicopia: This site has many beautiful images and downloadable "sounds" from space. It is very easy to use and understand. Most of the information is designed for students in high school and beyond.

European Space Agency: This site discusses how new technology developed in space science is used to advance space studies and enrich our daily lives. Little is specific to plasma science, but it shows many examples of how the science and technology are human endeavors. Ion propulsion rockets are explained along with practical applications for UV protective gear for children with rare genetic sensitivity to sunlight.

European Space Agency – Space for Educators: The purpose of this site it to "inform the public about the latest advances and discoveries in the space field, and to develop programs that will inspire young people to pursue careers in science and technology." A number of research pdf documents related to plasma fusion are available. The site is a great resource for information, but does not provide classroom activities that would be useful for most classroom teachers unless they have some very high-level students interested in international opportunities. There is a link to ESA Kids, which does provide news and lab activities.

Imagine the Universe: Excellent site designed for students 14 and up. It includes a multitude of resource information, links, classroom activities, connections with scientists, curriculum and a great number of references to plasma.

Mission to Geospace: Colorful, appealing, informative, historic, this site directs you to resources for teachers, hot topics in geospace and the latest news. Student and teachers have opportunity to ask "Dr. G.O. Space" questions.

MIT Haystack Observatory: Space Weather FX: A team of scientists and video producers are exploring what happens when the Sun stirs up a little space weather. You'll find vodcast episodes, links to space weather information, and educational materials.

NASA News and Features: This site provides direct links for educators and students, providing the most up to date information, events, opportunities, videos, social media links, and more. Search for "plasma" and/or "plasma characteristics" to get an extensive listing of links to the most recent plasma-related news and applications.

NASA Wavelength: This site is an excellent clearinghouse for Earth and space science resources for educators of all levels. It provides quick, easy access to resources, connections to other websites, and a format for sharing through social media and email. Provides unique access to science data, imagery, and strand maps, along with excellent lesson plans and activities. However, in all of the resources provided on matter, energy and energy resources, there is no reference to plasma.

Space Physics and Aeronomy: Home page of the Geophysical Institute's Space Physics and Aeronomy group, this site points you to studies of auroras, the magnetosphere and the solar wind. Great pictures, charts and icons. Excellent aurora forecasting. Although the web site never uses the word "plasma" it does refer to "elementary particles" and "electrons blown from the sun" when describing auroras.

Space Science Institute: Contains good K-12 curriculum materials for space science. Discusses plasma in relation to solar wind. Good graphics.

Space Storms (NOVA): Filmed discussion of space weather, with a focus on what give rise to the northern lights. No direct mention of plasma, though it deals with plasma phenomena like the solar wind. Links to Teachers Guide, video extras, interviews.

Space Weather Center: Excellent site! Includes the sun, plasmas, aurora, and storms in space. Numerous games, activities, e-cards and research. VERY interactive.

Space Weather News: The home page of the site provides current space weather information, what’s happening in other parts of the earth, real time photo gallery, and links to much more. This site is designed for the general public. With an optional subscription one has access to more information and opportunities.

The Electronic Universe: The Electronic Universe: [A Science Outreach Server] Site by Univ. Oregon, Dept. Physics, Dr. Bothun (Dr. Darkmatter) about Space, Earth, Environment, Weather, Astronomy (Pine Mountain Observatory), Physics and other courses - all with additional links, e.g. Hubble, LIGO, Caltech very many more...

Windows to the Universe: Includes educators' pages with classroom activities, interactive puzzles & games. A good site, with some references to plasma. Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced Lessons/activities. Plasmas featured on Fundamental Physics page.

2. Solar Plasmas

ISTP, International Solar-Terrestial Physics Program/NASA: Gives major concepts and specifics of the Sun's energy affecting the Earth, the data and the satellites gathering that data, including NASA educational material.

NASA/Marshall Solar Physics Group: Comprehensive descriptions of solar physics including solar plasmas. Very user friendly. Includes research scientists' names, addresses and email. Answers "Why We Study the Sun," "Big Questions," "Magnetism," and more. Content only. No ready-made lessons.

Solar Flare Theory: This site answers such questions as "What is a solar flare? Why study solar flares?" It describes the formation of plasma in solar flares. It also has an excellent glossary. In general this site is most appropriate for grades 9-12.

Stanford Solar Center: This site is a collection of multi-disciplinary, interactive exercises and activities based on the Sun and solar science, most geared to grades 4-12. Most of these have been aligned to science standards and approved by the NASA Product Review process. From the home page you can find your way to exercises for both students and teachers.

Yohkoh Public Outreach Project (Solar Events): YPOP [Yohkoh Public Outreach Project] - Images/activities from Yohkoh (sunbeam in Japanese) solar satellite, 1991-2001, with dated but very useful images and activities and current links such as SciLink, SOHO and others. Supported by Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics and Montana State Physics Department.

3. Magnetospheric Plasmas

Exploration of the Earth's Magnetosphere: Interactive site full of hands-on lessons for middle-high school. Lessons have historical context, beautiful photos, illustrations and a glossary. Describes space plasmas.

IMAGE Science Center P.O.E.T.R.Y web site: Hands-on lessons for students and teachers, sorted by content, grade level, and web-based. The activities highlight the plasma in nature (Earth's magnetic field, auroras) and show science as a human endeavor.

4. Auroras

Newton's Apple - Aurora Borealis: This Teacher's Guide, designed to support a segment on auroras from the PBS series "Newton's Apple," provides a good basic description, along with one classroom experiment, a glossary, resources, and a link to the video.

 

B. Lightning

A Lightning Primer: A site that grabs you with tales of lightning strikes that launch satellites, rockets and more. Nice photos and graphics. Does a good job of explaining why lightning research is important in terms of safety, technology, etc. Does not mention plasma, though it does describe the properties of ionized gas.

Lightning: FAQ (UCAR Communications): NCAR, National Center for Atmospheric Research, describes the process and sequence of lightning.

Lightning (NOVA): No specific mention of plasma, but good filmed discussion of how lightning forms. Teachers Guide.

Lightning Safety for Kids: Lightning Safety for Kids has stories about lightning strikes and near misses to children and adults. This Earth plasma is always a weather risk nationally and worldwide. No specific reference to plasma.

Theatre of Electricity: Theater of Electricity is the history of the Van de Graaff Generator with definitions, charts and historic pictures, from the Massachuttes Institute of Technology.

Thunderbolts.info: An ongoing collection of articles and papers centered on the role of electricity. Includes current and archived papers on plasma.

 

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