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"Exploration" as a Classroom Resource

'The Exploration of the Earth's Magnetosphere" can be used in several ways, described in more detail further below:

  • (a)   As source material for the high-school or college curriculum,
      especially in physics. astronomy and their history.
  • (b)   As a source of supplemental projects by high school students
      or by undergraduates.
  • (c)   As material for independent studies, In particular by
      motivated students who seek to know more about space
      than is provided by regular curricula.
  • (d)   As the outline of a one-semester introductory undergraduate
      course for non-science majors, which could be titled
      "Space Science for Poets."

General Suggestions

  1. Any teacher contemplating an extensive use of "Exploration" might find it useful to obtain a self- contained copy (see next item below). The source files can be copied from the browser and stored on hard disk (they also fit 5 HD floppies), and can then called by the browser--e.g using "Open File" on the "File" menu of the Netscape browser.
    With this material on hard-disk memory, "Exploration" can be used without any connection to the internet and it runs quite rapidly. Of course, the many links to other net documents requfre a net connection in order to work.

  2. "Exploration" can be freely copied for non-commercial use. Find out about copying to your own computer the entire "Exploration" package as a TARed or as a TARed and GZIPed file, either from the home page or from the overview page

  3. "Exploration" is best read sequentially, like a book; sections are accordingly numbered, and each is linked to the next one in sequence. Those wishing to look up specific topics are advised to use the index file, accessible from the end of any "Exploration" file. The index file displays a list of titles, from which any file of "Exploration" can be directly reached: an additional notation (+H) at the end can also be clicked, and brings up the attached history file.

  4. For a folding 3-dimensional paper model of the magnetosphere, link here

Specific Uses

Relevant files are listed as they appear In the Index file. "S" stands for supplemental files, indented in the index list; "+H" means, include the history file.

(a)   Classroom Material in Physics and Astronomy

    Topics listed below, relevant files in parentheses.
      Also look up related summary files.


The physics of magnetismThe Magnetosphere (+H),
Magnetic Fields (+H), The Terrella,
Magnetic Field Lines (+H)
Electromagnetic waves, Energy.
Ions and electronsElectrons (+H), Ions (+H),
Plasma (+H), Energetic Particles
Plasma plasma (+H)
Electromagnetic wavesMagnetic Field Lines--History, Electromagnetic Waves,
High Energy Particles.

Classroom material on discoveries, effects and instruments

Discovery of electromagnetism Magnetic Fields--History.
Discovery of the sunspot cycle The Sun--History, Discovery of the Sunspot Cycle,
Discovery of solar eruptions
The Sun--History, Discovery of Solar Flares
The Edison effect Electrons
Discovery of the radiation belt Explorers 1 and 3
Discovery of the solar wind Solar Wind (+H)
Dynamo Effect Electric Currents from Space, The lo Dynamo

(b)    Student Projects

    Students should be encouraged to also look at
    files not listed and at other resource material.
What is the polar aurora and what is known about it?The Polar Aurora (+H), Electrons, Auroral Imaging, Auroral Acceleration.
How were the radiation belts discovered?Explorers 1 and 3 (+S), the Radiation Belts (+H,S).
The active Sun The Sun (+H,S) The Sun's Corona, Solar
Energetic Particles, "Birth of a Radiation Belt"
High energy particles in spaceElectrons (+H), Ions (+H) The Radiation Belts (+S), Energy, Energetic Particles, Cosmic Rays, High Energy Particles in the Universe, Solar Energetic Particles, "Birth of a Radiation Belt,"
Magnetospheres of other planetsMagnetospheres Other than Ours, The Io Dynamo (see also Electric Currents from Space (+H)).
Satellite orbits Synchronous Orbit, Lagrangian Points, The Wind Spacecraft, Low Polar Orbit. Supplement with readings on Kepler's laws and their use, and by logging onto home pages of various satellite missions, using listed links and resources.
Dynamos in Space Electric Currents from Space (+H,S)
The Earth's Magnetosphere An overview project: start with the summary files and branch out

(c)    Self Study

A teacher will occasionally come across a bright young student who seeks to know "all about space exploration" and is willing to invest attention and time. "The Exploration of the Earth's Magnetosphere" is meant for such use: it is self-contained and nonmathematical, explicitely addressing many facets and covering related areas of physics, astronomy and history.

Students with a more technical background may want to go beyond the introductory level of "Exploration." A suitable place to start is "A Brief History of Magnetospheric Physics During the Spaceflight Era" which is also included. Space scientists and graduate students, in particular, will find leads to many key articles in the extensive bibliography of that work.

(d)    "Space Physics for Poets "

In recent years, many undergraduate physics departments have instituted nonmathematical introductory courses for non-physics majors, sometimes whimsically titled "Physics for Poets."

"Exploration" can provide the outline of a one-semester course on a similar level, which might well be called "Space Physics for Poets." A teacher presenting such a course needs a thorough command of physics and some additional familiarity with the Earth-Sun environment. The article 'A Brief History of Space Physics During the Spaceflight Era" included in these web files contains a great amount of relevant material, and more can be found in its large bibliography and in the file Additional Resources" reached from the home page of "Exploration."

Teachers are also advised to look up the article "Space Physics for Poets" in The Physics Teacher, vol. 35, p. 38-9, January 1997.

Happy Exploring!

Last updated 25 November 2001
Re-formatted 9-28-2004