This is a 2-part activity using HubbleSite.org and the fantastic NOVA documentary of Invisible Universe Revealed that gives students an appreciation for the design of and work of the Hubble Space Telescope, which is known as the most scientifically productive instrument in human history.
The first activity is a webquest or “scavenger hunt” for which students view and answer questions about some of the beautiful photos taken by Hubble on the HubbleSite.org website. I post this assignment on my Google Classroom so that students can type directly into the document, but this could be easily adapted to a paper version! However, it is best if students can see the pictures in color, so displaying the color images on a document camera or giving groups of students copies of the colored version to accompany their individual black-and-white versions would work as well. Sixteen of the Hubble’s “100 Top Shots” photographs are included in the webquest. Students will navigate through the to find each of the sixteen photographs. They will record the name of the nebula/star cluster/galaxy, and then read the information provided as a caption on the photo in order to answer the specific questions asked on the worksheet.
I chose the most riveting of Hubble’s “Top Shots”, but I find that this activity innately differentiates the material because students who are interested and excited by the photos will click on and learn about many more than the required photos. There is also a last page on which students will choose three more of their favorite photographs to document and write questions about.
The second activity is to show the NOVA documentary called Invisible Universe Revealed and have students complete the provided worksheet, which keeps them actively listening and provides a set of notes on the facts presented in the video. This documentary is available for free at http://www.pbs.org/video/2365472415/ . It is an excellent documentary about the designing and launching of the Hubble Space Telescope. The video discusses the progressive contributions that Edwin Hubble made to the field of astronomy and the space program, interviews the scientists, engineers, and astronauts who were most influential to the Hubble mission, and explains the science behind how the telescope was designed, how it gathers data, and how a major mistake was remedied. After completing the webquest and watching this video, students come away with a great sense of the influence that this single telescope has had on the human space endeavor.
I also included some follow-up ideas for extending this into a mini-unit on Hubble. This product would work great as a sub plan if your students have access to computers!
Please also consider giving your students a background in the history of space exploration with my Space Exploration Timeline Webquest
Thanks for looking!