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Science Olympiad. Solar System Div B 2007 Joshua Haislip. Event Parameters Time Limit: around 50 minutes Team: two students Materials allowed: Four-function calculator Hand-written, typed, computer generated resources (including books) All resources must fit within area of 12’ X 12’ X 3’

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science olympiad

Science Olympiad

Solar System Div B 2007

Joshua Haislip


Event Parameters

Time Limit: around 50 minutes

Team: two students

Materials allowed:

Four-function calculator

Hand-written, typed, computer generated resources (including books)

All resources must fit within area of 12’ X 12’ X 3’

Materials NOT allowed:

PDA, Cell Phone, any Electronic Devices



Students will have a series of activities to work on at a single station or may move from station to station.

Questions should be formatted to utilize science process skills: inferences, predictions, problem solving, observations, formulating and evaluating hypotheses, interpreting data, and graphing.


request this poster


Stellar Nurseries

Evaporating Gaseous Globules

Shockwaves from distant supernovae or gravity from nearby stars can trigger collapse.

Consists of dense regions of molecular hydrogen

Pillars are left after ‘erosion’ from the intense ultraviolet radiation of nearby, bright stars

around 3.5 light years


Protostars and Protoplanetary Disks

15 times Neptune’s orbit

As gas collapses it heats up

Before nuclear fusion and hydrostatic equilibrium is achieved, this ball of gas is known as a protostar

The disk of swirling dust and gas orbiting this protostar/star is called the protoplanetary disk

NICMOS Peers Through Dust to Reveal Young Stellar Disks. A View of IRAS 04302+2247

T Tauri Star Forming System


Sun-like Star

Currently 70% hydrogen, 28% helium, and 2% other metals

Fusion of hydrogen into helium is taking place in core

700 million tons of hydrogen are converted to helium each second


Red Giant

When solar-type stars run out of hydrogen in the core, they cool and begin to collapse

Collapsing causes temperature to rise, igniting a shell of hydrogen around the core

Star expands over 100 times its original size, core collapses further igniting helium fusion

The surface of our sun might swallow the Earth when it becomes a red giant


Planetary Nebula

After helium is depleted in core, star blows off outer layers leaving behind hotter star

High speed stellar winds from the new hot star slam into previously ejected material creating the nebula


White Dwarf

The core will eventually collapse to a white dwarf



Kepler’s Laws:

1: The orbit of a planet/comet about the Sun is an ellipse with the Sun's center of mass at one focus

2: A line joining a planet/comet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas in equal intervals of time

3. The square of the periods of a planet is proportional to the cube of its semimajor axes.

Newton determined the constant of proportionality:


T = planet's sidereal period

r = radius of the planet's circular orbit

G = the gravitational constant =

M = mass of the sun

Weight Equation (remember that 1 lb = 4.45 N):



Make organized notebook of objects in the solar system and their properties (ie. mass, average distance from the sun, composition, etc.)

Teach scientific notation and approximation! Many students waist a lot of times typing in the number 28389490302843848392933848. In astronomy, this can be approximated as 2.84 * 10^25.

Visit Morehead Planetarium and let me know when you are planning on coming

Schedule a solar system walk

this will teach scales, review planet properties, as well as give the students a sense of the size of our solar system

Do not plan on learning everything! This will only serve to overwhelm you


Most Importantly: Get the students excited about astronomy!


Use Wikipedia to obtain organized tables of information about planets and other objects in the solar system


Free virtual planetarium! See the sky as it looks at any time in the future or past from any place on Earth. Also zoom in on planets and Messier objects to see them as they would look through a telescope.

Test your students’ Stellarium skills with my “Stellarium Challenge”

Test your students’ understanding of Kepler’s third law, as well as the weight equation with my lab “Measuring the Mass of Jupiter”: