Star Power!

In this extensive activity students estimate the energy output of the Sun by doing a simple experiment and discover how much energy sunlight provides to Earth and the role of the Sun in the Earth System. Students also evaluate the power of sunlight closer to the Sun, at the distance of Mercury, since the activity was developed in support of the NASA Mercury Messenger program.

Go To:

NASA Discovery Program
Carnegie Institution of Washington and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Notes From Our Reviewers

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Before introducing this activity, it is suggested to read the extensive background materials.

While the guide states that this activity takes 2 hours, with the extensive equation-based investigations, this activity could take much longer and requires a knowledge of physics.

Because there are many variables that would affect this experiment, try this experiment before using.

Procuring the flat-sided glass bottles may be difficult. Flat plastic culture bottles may be easier to procure than flat-sided glass bottles, although the plastic will retain some of the energy and impact results. Try a local biotech or pharmaceutical company for some free samples. Be sure to try the experiment with these culture bottles before using the experiment.

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