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E/PO Program

Education & Outreach
The science investigations of WISE range from asteroids to the entire Universe, and there are therefore many opportunities to bring them into the classroom. Understanding star formation, galaxy collisions, extra solar planets, and black holes requires understanding of more basic concepts in the physical sciences and mathematics. The WISE E/PO program has developed several classroom lessons that address concepts in physics, chemistry, and math as well as more advanced lessons that use actual WISE image data. We also wish to highlight a number of links to other related NASA classroom resources. Each lesson is tied to National Science Education Standards.


All Grades

Accessing WISE Images: Tutorial
This tutorial explains how to navigate the WISE Archive.
WISE mosaic of the Soul Nebula.  Clouds of all colors surround clusters of stars. Making Color WISE Images: Tutorial
This tutorial explain the basic processes for creating a color picture using images downloaded from the WISE Science Data Archive.
WISE in a Box WISE in a Box
Download PDF (415KB)
Create a 3D model of the WISE spacecraft.

Grades 6-8

Modeling the Universe

Size & Scale of the Universe 
The Universe is very, very big. One cannot reasonably create a scale model of the Universe that includes all of its components—from people to superclusters—and simultaneously scales their distances and sizes. This activity attempts to overcome that difficulty by examining the Universe at different realms.

arrow Realms of the Universe Activity (pdf)
arrow Size and Scale Glossary (pdf)
arrow Size and Scale Presentation (pptx)
arrow Realms of the Universe Activity Worksheet (pdf)
arrow Room Size Conversion Calculator (xlsx)

.Download PDF (2 MB)
One method that astronomers use to measure distances to far away objects is called parallax. This activity introduces students to the concept and has them make measurements of distance and parallax angle to determine their relationship. The activity can be done using a ruler, string, astronomical images and other items easily found in a classroom.
Inverse Square Law . The Inverse Square Law of Light
.Download PDF (728KB)
We all know that a light, such as a candle or a streetlight, looks dimmer the farther away from it we get. This classroom activity gives an easy way for students to measure the relationship between distance and brightness. Once students discover the relationship, they can begin to understand how astronomers use this knowledge to determine the distances to stars and far away galaxies.

Grades 9-12

Modeling the Universe
Modeling the Universe
This is a workshop for teachers of grades 8-12 about the current scientific model for the structure and evolution of the Universe and the evidence that supports that model. It is a collaboration of several NASA outreach programs, including WISE, and is being presented nationally at conferences of science educators. As part of the workshop many different lessons are presented. You can find each of those lessons at this website.
Modeling the Universe

ImageJ Activity Guide
As scientists, astronomers do not only take pretty pictures, but also must produce quantitative (mathematical) analyses of these pictures. There are many different methods for analyzing astronomical images, and therefore many different software tools for doing this analysis.

The ImageJ Activity Booklet below provides instructions using a software program called ImageJ. The advantages of this program are that it is Java-based (so it can run on any computer), it is free, and it is relatively user-friendly.

The booklet begins with instructions on how to download ImageJ plus some additional astronomy-related plugins, followed by directions on how to install everything correctly (for both mac and pc). After you have everything installed, there are 4 lessons (about 15-20 minutes each) that will help you get oriented with some of the most basic image processing skills needed for analyzing astronomical images and making color pictures. The images you will need for the lessons are included below as well. There are questions throughout the booklet to help guide your thinking (answers provided at the end). Enjoy!


arrow ImageJ Activity Booklet (pdf) includes instructions for downloading and installing ImageJ and related sofware.
arrowMaterial for Lesson 1: kermit.jpg (28kB)
arrowMaterial for Lesson 2: quintet.fits * (4.1MB) right-click to 'Save Link As...'
arrowMaterials for Lesson 3: (making a color picture of M16 [the Eagle Nebula]): M16B.fits M16V.fits   M16R.fits * (15.9 MB each) right-click to 'Save Link As...'
arrowMaterial for Lesson 4: ngc7063_u.fits* (4.1 MB) right-click to 'Save Link As...'
arrowExtra materials for making a color picture of the bow shock near Zeta Ophiuchi (infrared images from NASA's WISE mission): ZetaOph_WISE_B.fits ZetaOph_WISE_V.fits ZetaOph_WISE_R.fits * (63.9 MB each) right-click to 'Save Link As...'
arrowExtra materials for making a color picture of M51(the Whirlpool Galaxy): M51B.fits M51V.fits M51R.fits * (4.1 MB each) right-click to 'Save Link As...'

* Note: To save the .fits images to your computer, either right-click (PC) or option-click (Mac) on the file name, then 'Save Link As...' to your desktop. DO NOT simply click on the image, as your browser will try to open it, and your browser will crash.

More in-depth lessons on using ImageJ can be found in the extensive online book An Introduction to Astronomical Image Processing with ImageJ.


silhouette of detective examining stars  

Light Detectives

In this activity, students use real NASA data to complete an investigation via the same basic methods that astronomers use. Students download data directly from NASA’s WISE mission. They then make measurements of those images with the image processing software SalsaJ, and eventually plot and analyze those measurements to find a brown dwarf. In the Going Further section, they follow the same process to find an Ultra-luminous Infrared Galaxy, or ULIRG, and then verify it by finding relevant images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The teacher engages and guides students along with the help of a slide show and discussion points. There are questions at the end of each section that the students can answer and turn in to be graded. Note: The current version is a draft that is in field testing.

arrow Light Detectives Teachers Guide (pdf)
arrow Light Detectives Student Guide (pdf)
arrow Light Detectives Presentation (pptx)
arrow Light Detectives Data Sheets (xlsx)


Other Education Resources

    SEGway Education Page
A web site where you can find over 20 lessons covering Earth Science (e.g. Surfing for Earthquakes and Volcanoes) to Space Science (e.g. The Light Tour) at grade levels from K-12.
Cool Cosmos Cool Cosmos
This website from the Spitzer Space Telescope gives an in-depth look at infrared astronomy. It includes classroom lesson, images, movies, and online tutorials.
Multiwavelength Milky Way Multiwavelength Milky Way
This website brings together several sets of image data of the Milky Way Galaxy in different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Some tutorial pages explain the nature of light, the structure of the Milky Way, and how maps of the Milky Way are made from Earth.
Invisible Universe Invisible Universe
In this GEMS guide, developed in partnership with NASA's Swift Gamma-ray Burst mission and the Lawrence Hall of Science, intriguing activities deepen student understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum, enabling students to detect and consider wavelengths other than visible light. Activities feature energy stations, including infrared (TV remote); microwave (pager); ultraviolet (black light) and other devices. Students come up with their own tests to see what blocks each wavelength, and what does not. They learn how these other wavelengths can be used to "see" things we cannot see with our eyes–allowing space scientists to detect and image objects, phenomena, and sources of energy far off in space. Colorful examples of these images are included in the guide.
Active Astronomy: Classroom Activities for Learning About Infrared Light  
Active Astronomy: Classroom Activities for Learning About Infrared Light
A set of four activities from NASA’s SOFIA mission that focus on improving student understanding of infrared light. These hands-on and demonstration activities are designed to complement instruction on the electromagnetic spectrum for middle and high school students; they are not a complete curriculum. Each activity has been designed to take 1-2 class periods.
    Amazing Space
Located at the Space Telescope Science Institute this interactive online K-12 Curriculum provides interdisciplinary activities entitled: Star Light, Star Bright, Solar System Trading Cards, Hubble Deep Field Academy, Student Astronaut Challenge, and Galileo to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Space Science Education Resource Directory Space NASA Wavelength
NASA Wavelength is a growing collection of all NASA Space Science classroom resources organized and searchable by grade level and topic.

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