Solarscapes presents middle school students with a short, focused study of the physical nature of the Sun. This standards-based curriculum, which was designed to enhance SSI’s traveling exhibition, Electric Space, is available to download. The principal developers were Ramon Lopez (presently at the University of Texas at El Paso) and Beverly Meier (a middle school educator in Boulder). Students learn that the Sun has many observable features, including Sunspots, that can be plotted and analyzed. When they plot the average number of Sunspots per year, a distinct pattern emerges—the Sunspot cycle. As an embedded assessment, students are asked to predict the beginning of the next Sunspot cycle and the number of Sunspots at maximum. Finally, students use solar images of Sunspots to determine the Sun's period of rotation.

Summary of Solarscapes Activities:

  • Features of the Sun
    Students study various features of the Sun in order to understand how the Sun varies.
  • Sunspot Number Variations
    Students find the patterns that emerge when Sunspot numbers are plotted over a period of time.
  • Determining the Rate & Period of Rotation
    Students learn how to determine the rotation rate of a sphere with identifiable features.
  • The Sun's Period of Rotation
    Students learn how Sunspots can be used to determine the rotation period of the Sun.


Introduction - 384kb
Teacher Versions  
Activity One - 324kb
Activity two - 151kb
Activity Three - 155kb
Activity Four - 181kb
Student Versions  
Activity One - 441kb
Activity two - 962kb
Activity Three - 236kb
Activity Four - 2.6mb
Figure One - 67kb
Figure two - 81kb
Figure Three - 64kb
Figure Four - 27kb
Figure Five - 47kb
Answer Key:  

Answer Key - 52kb