NSDL teaching resources related to “distance”

This site consists of a series of pages, each depicting and describing an object(s) on a different order of magnitude. There are 42 pages of this in all, for 42 powers of ten, starting with quarks (10^-14 meters) and ending with ‘near the limit of our knowledge’ (10^25 meters). The pictures ‘zoom out,’ with the quarks being part of a proton being part of a nucleus, and so on. There are short descriptions for each of the physics-related objects (i.e. quarks, atoms, clusters) and some of the locations, as well as links to more extensive descriptions. Also included is a page on units and scales.

A Question of Scale: Quark to Quasars

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This series of web-based exercises takes students on an interactive tour measuring cosmic distances. The exercises systematically steps out in scale from the familiar world of everyday objects to larger and larger astronomical scales, ultimately exploring the expansion rate of the universe. Links to other resources on the web are included.

The Cosmic Distance Scale

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This demonstration of earthquake location uses triangulation on a globe. It requires seismograms and travel-time curves (the site explains where to obtain these), string, and a globe. Since P waves travel faster than S waves, the time difference between the arrival of the P wave and the arrival of the S wave depends on the distance the waves traveled from the source (earthquake) to the station (seismograph). Students will measure the time difference between the P and S wave arrival using a seismogram.

Earthquake Location

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DATA: MODIS Imagery. TOOL: ImageJ. SUMMARY: Examine images of the Aral Sea from 1973 through 2003. Use image analysis software to measure changes in the width and area of the freshwater lake over time.

Earth Exploration Toolbook Chapter: Measuring Distance and Area in Satellite Images

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Created by Paul Falstad, this page compares the distance/magnitude/size of various objects or constants. This includes physical dimensions such as the diameter of particles, atoms and biological cells, the height of Mt. Everest, depth of the Earth’s crust, distances to planets, stars, and galaxies. Colored histograms are displayed for visual aid. Most of the physical quantities are linked to online references.

A Sense of Scale

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This resource gives an impression of how immense our Universe is by starting with an image of the Earth and then zooming out to the furthest visible reaches of the Universe. Its goal is to show astronomical distances without scientific notation. Instead, it focuses on the large number of zeros that are in astronomical distances when we measure them with a familiar unit like the kilometer. The number of zeros increases with each zoom, though not at a constant rate.

The Cosmic Distance Scale

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Georg Simmel (1858–1918) was a major contributor to social science thought whose work offers important insights on the social construction of space. Simmel explored several spatial themes including (a) the socially relevant aspects of space, (b) the effect of spatial conditions upon social interaction, and (c) upon forms of social, physical, and psychological distance.

Georg Simmel: The Sociology of Space

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In this chapter we develop student’s appreciation of the ‘first order’ basic spatial concepts of location, scale, adjacency, distance, and projection as well as the variety of ways by which they can be ‘measured’ in different ‘spaces.

Locations, space and distance (Unwin, Chapter 2)

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Students explore the scale of the solar system, while learning about NASA’s Voyager I and Voyager 2 space missions. This PDF describes four classroom activities aligned to several math and science teaching standards.

Voyager: The Interstellar Mission

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Students examine eclipses by measuring angular size and distance

Path of Totality: Measuring Angular Size and Distance

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