Monday, September 27, 2021

Homeschool Astronomy Chapter 3: Radiation, the Information from the Cosmos

Chapter 3 of Will's Astronomy textbook is titled, "Radiation: Information from the Cosmos." This chapter was especially fun because after, you know, reading the chapter and answering all the questions in the Chapter Review and doing all the actual book learning, we got to play with lots of toys!

Well, after also studying a few more supplementary resources:

Laser Khet is a game that's probably more thematically related to our later unit on telescopes, as it models how visual information is transmitted via mirrors, but I like it better as a sort of sensorial study of the way that wavelengths reflect off surfaces at interesting angles. You can see these reflections in the interactive virtual prism, above, and in the real-world prism exploration that Will also did for this chapter, but I like the challenge here of working out the angles in your head and problem-solving and testing predictions, etc.

And it's also a fun game and you get to play with lasers!

In an extension activity that involves both reflection and refraction, here's Will's further exploration of prisms, including an experiment she created, performed, and wrote up in her Astronomy Lab Notebook.

We've owned this spectroscope since our solar eclipse study, so Will was able to play around with it, then use it to conduct another experiment:

This is also when we made the wave machine that still lives in our family room. Especially when used in combination with the electromagnetic spectrum poster, it's a terrific model of how electromagnetic radiation travels. Just between us, though, I'm a little sad that I didn't give Will fresh popsicle sticks (not ones formerly used as plant markers) for this project, or even spend time with her dying the sticks with liquid watercolors or otherwise prettifying them, because this ugly-ass wave machine with various types of kale written on each stick is basically the focal point of our entire house now, and everyone who comes over looks at it and plays with it.

As a final activity for this chapter, Will explored how radiation is interpreted by coders in a way that makes it visually meaningful and easier to analyze at a glance. She further extended this work in the textbook's next chapter, which is fully focused on spectroscopy.

And then we'll move onto comparative planetology!

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