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X-Ray Candles: Solar Flares On Your Birthday

Using satellite data from space, students will explore the solar cycle through an investigation of solar x-ray flares. Students will work collaboratively to determine the number of solar flares in their month of birth and then graph the data they have discovered.

Key Questions
1. What is a solar cycle?

2. what is the relationship between solar cycles and solar x-ray flares?

Learning Objectives
1. Students will be able to take scientific data and calculate the frequency of solar flares.

2. Students will be able to graph their data and identify long term patterns of flare activity on the sun.

General Subject Areas
Space Science

Author: CSE @ SSL


Student Activities
Students will explore the solar cycle through an investigation of solar x-ray flares. Using GOES x-ray data, students will record the total number of flares in their birth month, over a span of 11 years, and will compute the percentage of high class flares which occur for each year. Students will graph their findings to help them identify the long term pattern of flare activity on the Sun.

Student Prerequisites
Familiarity with graphing and x,y coordinates. Students should also understand solar flares.

Students will create a graph detailing the information they discovered about solar flare activity.

Student Worksheets (pdf)

Extended Learning
Available on lesson plan pages- students are encouraged to explore other websites detailing information about solar flares and sunspots.

Time Requirements
1 hour of teacher instruction, 1 hour of Guided Practice and Investigation, and 30-45 minutes for the follow-up activity.

Materials Required
-Browser enabled computers with Internet connection
-Graph paper and Scientific Calculator

Required Plugins

Additional Resources
Student Activity
Subject Background

Best For Grades
middle school

National Science Education Standards (NSES)
grades 5-8
grades 9-12

State Science Standards
Grade 8 Physical Science
Grades 9-12 Earth Sciences

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