Expansion of the Universe
Earth and Space

Home-based physics resources to support remote teaching of Earth and Space

Remote teaching support for 11-14 14-16 16-19

A collection of resources on the topic of earth and space to help support teachers and students whilst educating remotely.

Health and Safety Guidance:

These experiments have been selected by trained teachers as appropriate for use at home, but we have not specifically tested them for home use.

All experiments are carried out at your own risk.

To avoid risk of injury or damage, we recommend that you follow the instructions as shown, and that a responsible adult supervises all practical activity and considers the suitability of each task for their child.

Teachers proposing to recommend any resources to their students should:

  1. work within safety policies established by their school;

  2. use their professional judgement to assess the suitability of experiments for their own students;

  3. direct students and their parents/guardians to follow all stated instructions.

Star
Earth and Space

Videos to support remote teaching and learning of Earth and Space

Remote teaching support for 11-14 14-16 16-19

A selection of videos to use remotely with your students.

For students aged 11-14:

Phases of the Moon

Models of the Solar System: Earth, Sun & Moon

The Scale of the Universe

For students aged 14-16:

Dark Matter is a Circus Master in the Universe

How Big is the Universe?

For students aged 16-19:

A Universe of Waves

Alice & Bob in Wonderland: Is that star really there?

Alice & Bob in Wonderland: Why is it dark at night?

Alice & Bob in Wonderland: What keeps us stuck to the earth?

Black Holes, Neutron Stars & White Dwarfs

Brief Guide to the Galaxy

Classroom Demonstrations: Redshift

Gravitational Lensing with Tape and Saucer

Gravitational Waves: A New Window to the Universe

Where was the Big Bang?

Introduction to Galaxies

Earth
Earth and Space

Home Experiments to support the remote teaching and learning of Earth and Space

Remote teaching support for 11-14 14-16 16-19

These experiments have been selected by trained teachers as appropriate for use at home, but we have not specifically tested them for home use.

All experiments are carried out at your own risk.

To avoid risk of injury or damage, we recommend that you follow the instructions as shown and that a responsible adult supervises all practical activity and considers the suitability of each task for their child.

Teachers proposing to recommend any resources to their students should:

  1. work within safety policies established by their school;
  2. use their professional judgement to assess the suitability of experiments for their students;
  3. direct students and their parents/guardians to follow all stated instructions.

The following resources are suitable for students aged 11-14 and 14-16:

  • Marvin and Milo experiments are useful for teaching younger students. In Water Fall, they investigate freefall and, in Doppler Spin, they reproduce the effects of motion on waves.
  • Seasons is an experiment that can be done at home that explains why it is warmer in the Summer. A similar activity can be found at the NSO pages.
  • The sky tonight shows students what would will be visible this evening. Encourage them to do some (socially distanced) stargazing.
  • Solar eclipses can be investigated here.

Simulations can be useful when teaching about Space. 

For students aged 14-19:

  • The Blackbody Spectrum can be explored with this PhET simulation. Use it to investigate Wein's Law.
  • The spectrum from differentlight sources can be captured using a Pringle's tube. Watch this video for the instructions.
Redshift
Earth and Space

Questions to check understanding and support the remote teaching and learning of Earth and Space

Remote teaching support for 11-14 14-16 16-19

A selection of diagnostic questions to use remotely when teaching about Earth and Space

  • There are questions from 'Physics for You' by Keith Johnson and our own IOP Coach, Sue Holt. The Earth and Space sheet is linked below.

For students aged 16-19:

  • Teaching Advanced Physics resources feature question sets to use with your students. Those relevant to Astrophysics are linked below.

Earth and Space questions

Some questions that aid to check understanding of Earth and Space topics..

Expansion of the Universe
Earth and Space

Elastic band universe

Remote teaching support for 14-16 16-19

In this activity students build a model universe using washers and elastic bands. You can use it to introduce Hubble’s law.

Equipment

Each student will need:

  • 6 assorted washers (or paper clips)
  • 5 elastic bands of the same thickness (and ideally of different lengths)
  • Small sticker to indicate ‘home’
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Graph paper (or laptop with Microsoft Excel or similar)
  • Sticky tape
  • A copy of the student instructions


Teaching notes

By following instructions on their activity sheet students should build a one-dimensional model of a universe. After expanding it to double its initial length they will need to stick the washers at the end of the chain to the table/floor to measure distances.

When they plot a change in distance against distance graph they should find that it is a straight line. Repeating with a different washer as the home galaxy reveals that the gradient of the graph is the same irrespective of which washer they consider to be ‘home’. Like real galaxies, the galaxies in the model seem to move away from home, but home is not the centre of the expansion. Observers in all galaxies will see the galaxies move away from them with a speed that is proportional to their distance from their galaxy. This is known as Hubble’s law.

ModelUniverse
The washers do not expandGalaxies do not expand (they are gravitationally bound)
The elastic bands expand, carrying washers with themSpace between the galaxies expands, carrying galaxies with it

Learning outcome

Students explain why observers in all galaxies see the galaxies move away from them with a speed that is proportional to their distance.

With thanks to the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics for permission to adapt their activity

More resources, selected for remote use with your students, can be found in COVID-19 support.

 

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