NASA Kepler Mission educational materials developed at Lawrence Hall of Science:

  • Planetarium Programs - the LHS Planetarium produced the audience participation program Strange Planets that is now part of our Planetarium Activities for Successful Shows (PASS). We also produced three Kepler Mini-shows (~15 minutes in length): Hunting for Water; Inside the Zodiac; and Searching for Other Earths.

  • Museum Exhibit Alien Earths - LHS Exhibits staff participated in development of the major museum exhibit "Alien Earths" and LHS was the pilot venue for the exhibit in a series of exhibition sites coordinated through ASTC.
    Images: AEatLHS00.jpg and AEatLHS02.jpg

  • Table-top Models - We a few versions of models to simulate what the Kepler Mission does. The models consisted of an orrery (model planet system), a light (model star), and a computer with light sensor and software to analyze changes in the light's brightness as the model planets orbit. Different orreries were made from LEGO parts, K'NEX parts, and a commercially available FOSS Orrery that is used in the FOSS middle school Planetary Science course. Image: FOSSorreryWithCaption.jpg

  • Kepler Starwheel - a do-it-yourself adjustable star map that shows where in the sky Kepler was pointing during its primary 4-year data collection time period. It also shows sky positions of naked-eye stars with exoplanets. It is based on the Lawrence Hall of Science's Star Wheels.  Image: KeplerStarWheel.jpg

  • Computer Interactives - LHS ScienceView created the computer simulation "Exoplanet Transit Hunt" where users could select a star to observe, measure its brightness changes, and analyze those changes to determine an exoplanet's size, orbit period, and even its chances of being habitable. UCB undergraduate staff developed a Flash application, LightGrapher, that allows a computer's camera or webcam to be used as a free light sensor to go with a table top orrery for transit technique simulations. Images: lgObliqueView800px.jpg and lgGraph.jpg

  • Website - LHS staff person Alan Gould was the webmaster for the Kepler website that included sections for Kepler News, Table of Kepler Discoveries, Computer Interactives, Multimedia, Artwork including the Kepler Art Contest, Handouts & Posters, Presentations, Podcasts, Radio Shows (StarDate), Kepler Awards, and Education Materials.

  • Curriculum Projects
    • Great Explorations in Math and Science - The GEMS middle school Space Science Sequence included these activities among others: Detecting Planet Transits; Human-Powered Orrery (kinesthetic model of planetary motion); Observing the Jupiter System.

    • Full Option Science System - The FOSS "Planetary Science" middle school course included an investigation about planet-finding by the transit method that Kepler uses and discussion about what makes a planet habitable. A commercial version of table-top model became part of the FOSS Planetary Science classroom kit.

    • Hands-On Universe - HOU "A Changing Cosmos" curriculum for high school included "Tracking Jupiter's Moons" (using image processing software to analyze observatory images of Jupiter and its moons) and added the investigation "Exoplanet Transits" in which students use telescope images and image processing software to determine the size and orbital period of an exoplanet.

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