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To download the lesson plan as a pdf, see the document below.
Students will learn how technology can help scientists solve a problem. One of the challenges scientists face with any spacecraft is attitude control. Students will be introduced to the problem of attitude control in space and two different ways scientists address it.
Facilitate student discussion to recommend the best way that scientists can get the Swift satellite to change directions. See Teachers Notes PDF Document for elaboration.
Gamma-ray Burst Theories QuickTime Video
Note: Most physics teachers at your high school will have this bicycle wheel with handles.
Note: YouTube often contains videos on angular momentum as an alternative exercise.
See Teachers Notes PDF Document for elaboration.
Part 1: Ask students how satellites change orientation in space. After discussing various ways it can be done, show Video 4:
Gamma-ray Burst Theories QuickTime Video[Time – 4:11]. Then, ask them questions regarding role of technology and movements of Swift satellite.
Part 2: Explain the concept of attitude. Then, by using a swivel chair, illustrate the problem that the scientists face with getting a satellite to change its pointing direction.
Part 3: See Teachers Notes PDF Document for further elaboration. First, ask students what might solve the problem. Explain using thrusters as one possible solution and the disadvantages of using thrusters. Next, explain the second possible solution that momentum wheels can be used to change the direction. Facilitate two students demonstrate angular momentum: one student is rotating the bicycle wheel, while the other student is holding the wheel on a swivel chair. Further, explain the twisting motion, torque.