Sunday, October 25, 2009

Science News For Kids

New Eyes to Scan the Skies

New telescopes will help save humans from extinction. One of the four proposed telescopes, located on a mountaintop in Hawaii is called Pan-STARRS. Nick Kaiser, a scientist who works on the project, says the Pan-STARRS telescope has been designed to find “90 percent of all killer asteroids, near-Earth asteroids bigger than 300 meters.” Smaller asteroids often crash into Earth, but if a giant “killer” asteroid were to strike our planet, it could mean the end of human civilization. Three new telescopes will be added to the collection to ensure that at least one telescope is functioning properly so that scientists will know if there is an asteroid on its way to Earth before it is too late. By using four telescopes instead of one, scientists hope to get a more accurate picture of space. If a giant asteroid were identified, astronomers would plot ways to deflect it or break it up long before it reached Earth.

After reading the article as a class, students can research the history of telescopes and their importance to science as we know it today. They can create a time-line of the history of telescopes and key inventors/scientific advances from the time of Galileo Galilei, to today. Students can then brainstorm methods that could be used to break up the killer asteriods before they hit the earth, and disucuss other relevant tools of astronomy that may be useful to utilize in their plan.

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