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# S15.4.4

Designs and conducts scientific investigations by identifying and clarifying the question, method, controls and variables; organizing and displaying data; revising methods and explanations; presenting the results; and receiving critical response from others.

### How Big Is the Earth?

In collaboration with another school north or south of yours, rnuse the method of Eratoshenes to determine the circumference rnof the Earth.

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### Studies of a Population of Stars: How Bright Are the Stars, Really?

Make observations and use available data and simple calculations to correlate observations and data in the characterization of stars. In this activity, the distances to bright stars are calculated. The apparent brightness of these stars is then adjusted for distance to see which stars are intrinsically bright and which only appear bright because of their proximity to Earth.

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### Mapping Your State and Community

Detect patterns and uncover cause-and-effect relationships using the Mapping For Everyone web toolkit (http://www.esri.com/mappingforeveryone). By analyzing median age, home value, population change, household size, and other variables, you will be thinking critically and spatially while comparing differences between your neighborhood and others around the country.

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### When a Ruler Is Too Short

Surveyors are often seen in the middle of the street making careful measurements of angles with their transits, and distances with their steel tapes. For points than can be easily reached, such a survey is convenient. But when the target is inaccessible – a mountain summit or a distant star – known distances can be combined with measured angles to determine a distance or altitude. The method relies on parallax, the way an object appears to move, relative to a more distant background, when viewed from different angles.

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### Seeing Interference Fringes with a Telescope

Astronomers build larger telescopes not only to collect more energy but also to resolve finer detail in the objects to be studied. While groundbased optical telescopes with "filled" apertures of up to 10 m have been built, and 30 m and larger-aperture designs are being studied, another method of observations permits equivalent apertures spanning tens to hundreds of meters to be used. Radio astronomers have used these instruments, called interferometers, for decades, with equivalent apertures spanning thousands of kilometers.

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### Seeing Interference Fringes

Demonstrate the wave nature of light by projecting interference patterns. Detecting the interference of waves is one of the most powerful methods in science for measuring wave phenomena, and using the waves and their interference can reveal underlying details of their sources and the materials through which they travel.

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### Sand or Rock? Finding Out from 1,000 km

This activity quantifies an experience many students have had visiting a beach, or even playing in a sandbox. A summer afternoon walk, barefoot, across sand can burn one's feet. Often people take a few steps and then bury their feet in the cooler subsurface sand as they make their way across the beach. After sunset, the surface sand cools rapidly and buried feet are warmed by the deeper sand that has not cooled off yet. Stopping to rest on an empty fire ring, the beach walker notices how warm the concrete ring is long after the Sun has gone down.

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### Length of the Day

The length of the day is something we take for granted. Yet, much can be learned about the day -- and the way the Earth moves -- from careful observations of the Sun and a more distant star, over as little as 24 hours, with a home-made viewer and a good clock.

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