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Return to the Stratosphere

Activity 2: "Starstuff reflecting on Starstuff"--Looking back on an Adventure


To have students discuss what they've learned through this electronic field trip, and to give their assessment of this kind of educational experience.

If your journey began with a discussion of what students knew and wanted to know about the Universe, it makes sense to end with a discussion of what was learned. The discussion should start with many of the same questions that were raised in your opening activity. At this point you'll see how useful it is to have a good record of what was said "way back when"! Please take notes about what's said now. It would be very helpful to future Passport to Knowledge projects to share this information on-line if you have access to the Internet, or mail it with your Evaluation forms. Here are some ideas to get things going.

General Questions:

  • What do you now know about Earth's atmosphere, our solar system, and "outer space" which you did not realize before? Prompt for specific examples
  • What did you learn about the researchers from the on-line Field Journals, or the live interactions seen in the videos?
  • What makes someone want to be an astronomer?
  • What tools have made it easier to explore space?

Starlight: Color, Light and Heat

  • Did you learn anything about light that surprised you?
  • How do colors, light and heat relate to each other?
  • How well do human eyes process light, and what don't we see?
  • How can we see more than is visible to the unaided eye?
  • What is infrared astronomy?
  • How do infrared telescopes help us explore space?

Stars, Planets, and Moons

  • What do we know about planets and their movements?
  • How are other planets different from Earth?
  • Do all planets have atmospheres?
  • What do we know about Jupiter and Saturn?
  • What is a moon, and where do we find them?
  • Would it be possible to have two stars in a solar system?
  • Are stars timeless, or do they live and die?

Open-Ended Questions

  • Did you learn anything through Live from the Stratosphere that you think you will never forget?
  • What was the most and least interesting part of the project?
  • If you were out in space, what would you most want to explore and why?
  • What questions do you still have about space, light and heat?
  • Any guesses on what will be the greatest discoveries in outer space in the
  • next century?

"How looks the night?"

Poet at work:

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Students sometimes forget that published authors also have to sweat the details and work through draft upon draft. We've reprinted Hopkins' finished poem, "The Starlight Night" (page 26), but here you can see the poet at work behind the scenes, striving to find the right words to express his feelings for the stars.


Stars waving their indivisible rays.
Sky fleeced with the milky way.

Night's lantern
Pointed with pierced lights, and reaks of rays
Discover'd everywhere.

The sky minted into golden sequins.
Stars like gold tufts.
Stars like golden bees.
Stars like golden rowels.
Sky peak'd with tiny flames.


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