Students look to the skies in this new inquiry-based activity from NASA

NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) are collaborating on a new educational activity that encourages students to research the question, “Do people everywhere see the same number of stars in the night sky?” In answering this question, students will discover why people might not see the same number of stars, depending on where they live. The Star Count Project is a part of NASA’s Student Observation Network, a collection of online inquiry-based activities that challenge students to find answers to research questions by making their own observations and interpreting them with NASA data. There are many factors that affect how many stars can be seen at night, and NASA and the CSA are inviting U.S. and Canadian students to study those factors. CSA astronaut Steve MacLean, a member of the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the next mission to the International Space Station, is supporting the project. MacLean will perform the Star Count experiment during the mission. While in space, he will upload star observation information into a database via the Star Count web site. Students will learn how to estimate the number of starts observed based on random samples of sections of the sky. They’ll also add to the database by entering their location, number of stars observed, and information about their viewing conditions, then compare their observations with MacLean’s and others.

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