Star Spectra Science: Using Balloons and Buttons to Model Spectroscopy
This lesson is the keystone activity of our AAPT Star Spectra Digi Kit. It integrates physics and space science as students explore the spectra of stars using a physical model composed of balloons and buttons. The lesson was inspired by "Balloon and Button Spectroscopy: A Hands-On Approach to Light and Matter", and article by Joseph Ribaudo, published in The Physics Teacher magazine. Students find wavelength and corresponding energy (in eV) for each color in the visible spectrum, then they identify energy transitions and corresponding color for energy-level diagrams. Next, they pop the balloons and sort buttons by color, plotting the color incidence on a histogram. Finally, they will identify peak emission wavelengths for each balloon "star" and estimate a surface temperature for each.

Note The lesson includes background information, explicit instructions for performing calculations, and a problem set with answer key.
Balloon and Button Spectroscopy: A Hands-On Approach to Light and Matter
This is a link to Joseph Ribaud's 2016 article in The Physics Teacher magazine, which inspired the creation of this AAPT Digi Kit.