What Happens When Solar Weather Reaches Earth by Tom N. Tomas

Project:     NASA Heliophysics Teacher-Developed Lessons

Note: This lesson was designed for Navajo students but is included in the HEAT collection to inspire and support all educators to incorporate indigenous knowledge.

This lesson will fit within a broader interdisciplinary thematic unit. Students will learn about relationships between the Sun and Earth by researching how the Sun creates patterns on Earth. Students will begin by asking, “Why are there satellite outages and radio drop-outs?” This question will lead students to auroras and solar storms. Note:  When faint radio stations drop-outs, it is an indication of the Sun’s X-ray flux increasing. The insights gleaned will vary greatly and then our focus will concentrate on Coronal Mass Ejections (solar ‘burps’) and solar flares and how these forms of space weather interact with Earth’s ionosphere, in part, by creating the auroras in the southern and northern hemispheres. Students will study the NASA EZIE mission: Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer (EZIE). Students will also study the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission, a Solar-Terrestrial Probe that is used to study magnetic reconnection. Students will use magnets and iron filing containers to explore, engage in, examine, and visualize magnetic fields.