Students plot sunspot activity by year to discover the 11 year solar cycle.
Related NGSS Standards: MS-ESS1-1, HS-ESS1-1, MS-ESS1-3
Students are provided sunspot per year data for a 300 year period (1700-2000). Break up the class into groups of anywhere between 4 and 10 students per group. (The year range they each plot will depend on your group sizes. To make this easier, we have provided a breakdown of specific year ranges per student for different group sizes.) Each individual student then plots just a portion of the data. Students then combine their work to make one really long graph that displays all 300 years of data! The graph clearly shows the 11 year sunspot cycle. Analysis questions and questions related to sunspots are included. Students may need to use their textbook or the internet to answer some of the questions.
Note: Students do not need to combine graphs to discover the 11 year cycle, as each individual graph will show the cycle. However, combining 300 years of data certainly makes for a more dramatic effect!
For a QUICKER worksheet on the solar cycle, check out our Sunspots Worksheet.
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