this Daily Classroom Special:
Science to Go provides easy yet meaningful
science activities for grades k-8. Science to Go was written
by Barbara Smith, Magnet Coordinator at Harvard Elementary, Houston
(TX) and former Teachers Network web mentor.
To grab attention at the beginning of your lesson about comets,
have your own comet sighting! I string up a line of "invisible"
fishing line or transparent thread, from one side of the room to
another, dropping about 15 degrees from start to finish. (Make sure
the line is above head level, so no one will walk into it.) Attach
a tail of narrow tissue strips to a heavy foam ball or tennis ball
with a thumbtack, to simulate the tail. Hang it from the line with
a loop of thread attached to the ball with another thumbtack. Conceal
the "comet" behind a ceiling light fixture, air conditioning equipment,
or in a small box you have attached to the ceiling. At the appropriate
moment, use a meter stick to start the ball sliding down the line.
You've got a cheap, fast focus that brings a little excitement to
your astronomy lesson!
Toilet Paper Comet
Have a student stand in the middle of the room, playing the part
of the sun. Another student, holding a roll of toilet paper, becomes
the comet. Determine the path the comet will take around the sun,
and as it approaches the sun, pull out paper with one hand to show
the growth of the tail. After the comet passes perihelion, tear
off small pieces of the tail, until it is far away from the sun
and has no tail at all.
The frozen material in a comet is melted quite easily by the radiation
pressure and solar wind. Blow on a pile of chalk dust or a small
piece of dry ice (use proper handling safety!), to show how the
material is blown away from the sun, forming the tail.
Research what different civilizations thought about comets. Have
students portray the attitudes, emotions, and beliefs about comets
in a brief presentation.
Comet page for upper-level students
Sky & Telescope http://skypub.com/sights/comets/comets.shtml