23 October 2021 - Mission Day: 9458 - DOY: 296
Outreach Spotlight

Sun|trek, a new educational solar website (February 2008)

Sun|trek is an exciting new website for school students and teachers about the Sun and its effect on the Earth. Sun|trek has been motivated and inspired by the fantastic images and movies of the Sun taken from space (for example from the SOHO satellite). It is narrated by solar guides (young solar researchers), who not only share the excitement that they feel about working with these solar space projects, but also say a bit about themselves, how they became interested in astronomy and what their other interests are. They are 'role models' who could inspire the younger students.

The material in Sun|trek is presented in a novel and fun way, in order to engage the interest of school students (approximately 10-14 year olds). It is relevant to many aspects of the school science curriculum, including the solar system, light, UV and X-ray radiation, energy, magnetism, gravity, and also deals with topical issues, such as global warming. There are contributions from teachers as well, with classroom projects and suggestions for teaching resources and links to other educational websites.

The Sun|trek team is led by Helen Mason (University of Cambridge,UK). She has worked for many years on solar space projects - Skylab, Solar Maximum Mission, Spacelab and more recently SOHO. Helen enjoys sharing her interest in and knowledge of the Sun with school students and has been involved in many outreach projects: visiting schools, video conferences, public lectures, workshops with teachers, radio and TV programs.

One of her most exciting ventures was accompanying a group of ten UK students and their teachers (Mike Cripps and Graham Coleman) to South Africa in 2005 to run astronomy workshops with the African students from economically disadvantaged regions. This was a very rewarding experience.

We all had a lot of fun, and the SOHO 3D postcards were a great hit!! One student wrote: ”In the North and South activities I learned about many things - like working in a team together, the constellations, ultraviolet radiation, how to use a telescope, different ways to look at the Sun, the Milky Way and many, many, more. This was the greatest experience of my life and I hope other students will be as lucky as I am to find out about such great stuff.” (Zlumkile James from Vusisizwe Senior Secondary School in Worcester, at a township called Zweletembo, South Africa).

Other members of the Sun|trek team include Dave Pike and Robert Walsh, together with many solar guides and several teachers. The novel design of the Sun|trek website was produced in collaboration with the software company IMDC. The Sun|trek project has been funded by STFC (UK - Science and Technology Facilities Council).

Hear what one teacher had to say: “Suntrek kept me engaged for hours. Its a great mix of movies, animations and snapshots for those who just want to browse the site, but it also has a wealth of detailed information if you care to delve a little deeper. There's no shortage of ideas and resources ready to use in your classroom. The images are stunning!'” (Viccy Fleming, Science Teacher, Stimulating Physics, the Institute of Physics). So, you are invited to come by and check it out!


TELL US ABOUT YOUR ACTIVITIES: If you use our SOHO images or movies, provide outreach and programs in the area of solar study, and would like to be considered for our Outreach Spotlight section, write to steele.hill[at]gsfc.nasa.gov with a brief overview of your efforts.If we think you'd make a good candidate, we will contact you.


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Last modification: July 27, 2020

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