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Star Spectra Science: Using Balloons and Buttons to Model Spectroscopy Documents

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Main Document

Star Spectra Science: Using Balloons and Buttons to Model Spectroscopy 

written by Rebecca Vieyra
published by the American Association of Physics Teachers

This lesson blends physics and Earth science as students explore the spectra of stars using a physical model composed of balloons and buttons. It was inspired by "Balloons and Button Spectroscopy: A Hands-On Approach to Light and Matter", an article by Joseph Ribaudo, published in The Physics Teacher magazine. The lesson initiates with the task of finding wavelength (in nanometers) and corresponding energy (in eV) for each color in the visible spectrum. Next, students identify energy transitions and corresponding color for energy-level diagrams. In the next phase, they pop the balloons and sort buttons by color, plotting the color incidence on a histogram. They will then identify peak emission wavelengths for each balloon "star" and calculate an estimated surface temperature for each.

Published January 30, 2017
Last Modified March 14, 2018

This file has previous versions.

Primary Documents (2)

Teacher's Guide: Star Spectra - Modifiable Word Version 

by Rebecca Vieyra

Printable Word version of the lesson plan with assessment.

Released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 license.

Published January 30, 2017
Last Modified March 14, 2018

This file has previous versions.

Student Worksheet: Star Spectra 

by Rebecca Vieyra

Printable Student Guide for distribution in the classroom.

Released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

Published January 30, 2017
Last Modified February 17, 2017