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Paper: Magnetic Mystery Planets
Volume: 483, Ensuring STEM Literacy: A National Conference on STEM Education and Public Outreach
Page: 303
Authors: Fillingim, M.; Brain, D.; Peticolas, L.; Yan, D.; Fricke, K.; Thrall, L.
Abstract: The magnetic fields of the large terrestrial planets, Venus, Earth, and Mars, are all vastly different from each other. These differences can tell us a lot about the interior structure, interior history, and they can even give us clues to the atmospheric history of these planets. This paper highlights a classroom presentation and accompanying activity that focuses on the differences between the magnetic fields of Venus, Earth, and Mars, what these differences mean, and how we measure these differences. During the activity, students make magnetic field measurements and draw magnetic field lines of “mystery planets” using orbiting “spacecraft” (small compasses). Based on their observations, the students then determine whether they are orbiting Venus-like, Earth-like, or Mars-like planets. This activity is targeted to middle and high school audiences. However, we have also used a scaled-down version with elementary school audiences.
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