Glenbrook South Year-End Projects


Project Information Sheet


Your project involves conducting literature research, simulation studies, data analysis, and/or spectroscopic studies in order to piece together the relationships among variables which effect the origins, evolution, structure, and nature of the heavens. Principles of spectroscopy, gravitation, nuclear chemistry, gas behavior, and wave and ray optics will be described using words, diagrams, equations, and animations.


By the end of this project, you should be able to:

  • use spectroscopic principles to describe and explain how scientists study the chemical and physical nature of the sun, the stars, and interstellar space.
  • use principles of gravitation, gas laws, and thermodynamics to explain theories of star (and planet) formation and evolution.
  • explain how spectral types and Hertzsprung-Russell diagrams are used to infer information about properties of stars such as mass, size, age and evolutionary rate, as well as to predict ultimate evolutionary paths.
  • use models of nuclear chemistry to explain the fusion and energy production by the sun (and other stars) throughout the course of their lifetimes.
  • explain the electromagnetic spectrum and the means by which scientists use wave and ray optics in an effort to explore space through terrestrial and spaced-based telescopes.
  • collect and discuss a well-organized array of relevant images, video segments, computer-generated graphs, QuickTime movies and computer animations which describe astronomists' findings about the universe.


Your teacher will provide:

  • timely guidance and advice to get (and keep) your project moving.
  • suggestions for ways to find information (e.g., topics, keywords, books, videos, laser discs, etc.).
  • a World Wide Web (WWW) page full of links to useful sites pertaining to your topic.
  • a listing of basic research questions about your topic in order to provide initial guidance on your literature search.
  • a school e-mail account and suggestions for collaboration with other students at GBS (and beyond) and with scientists who conduct research in your field.
  • class time to work on the project.
  • equipment (Macintosh, VCR and videos, gas discharge tubes and diffraction gratings, etc.) and space to work on the project, and storage for your items.
  • information for the use of gas discharge tubes and diffraction gratings.
  • a set of scoring rubrics to guide your performance and to access your completed project.


The student is responsible for:

  • developing a plan which involves dividing up each phase of the project into a variety of tasks and designating certain tasks as the responsibility of certain individuals.
  • devoting yourself to your designated task and collaborating with others (GBS students, students from other schools, and experts in a field of study) regarding the results of your efforts.
  • arranging for appointments with your teacher in order to ask questions, receive advice, discuss difficulties, and discuss progress.
  • a thorough and well-documented literature search which includes technical reading from scientific texts and chemistry and physics books, the search of information on CD-ROMs, laser discs ("Great Solar System Rescue," "Mechanical Universe," etc.), and the use of Internet resources; the literature search should attend to and exceed the listing of basic research questions.
  • a well-defined project proposal for the collection and analysis of data which includes (1) a statement of the purpose, (2) a step-by-step procedure for collecting data from the internet or gas discharge tubes, and (3) a clearly-defined procedure for interpretting experimental data.
  • a detailed and organized notebook which documents the results of your data collection and analysis and your spectroscopic studies (if any are done).
  • reviewing your notebook and results of your experimental investigations with your teacher during guidance sessions.
  • the organization of charts, graphs, posters, computer printouts, clip-art, videos, QuickTime movies, CD-ROM images, WWW downloads, etc. all included in a multimedia report used to inform your classmates of your literature and laboratory research findings.
  • the production of a single word-processed lab report which includes a purpose, bibliography, literature survey, experimental procedure, experimental data, tables, graphs, a discussion of results, and a discussion of the principles of chemistry and physics pertinent to the field of astronomy.


Some KEYWORDS to use in a literature search:

Doppler Shift

Red Shift and Blue Shift

Big Bang



General Relativity


Stellar Evolution

Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram

H-R Diagrams

Spectral Type





Space Probe







Radio Astronomy


X-Ray Spectroscopy


Kitt Peak Telescope

Keck Telescope

Wilson Observatory


Hubble Space Telescope


Solar Flare

Solar Prominence


Solar Wind


Internet Resources

Collaboration Ideas


IMC RESOURCES (placed on reserve):


General Information:

How the World Works

500 REN

Experimenting with Science

507.8 GAR

Foundations of Modern Physics

530 HOL

How Things Work

530 CRA

Physics Projects for young...

530 GOO

Adventures in Physics

530 HIG

A Source Book in Physics

530 M

The Story of Physics

530 MOT

The Project Physics course

530 RUT

Phenomenal Physics

530 SWA

The complete Guide to...

797.1 EVA


Detailed Information about your specific topic:


Other IMC RESOURCES (not placed on reserve)

Science and physics encyclopedias and reference materials

CD-ROMs (particularly the "How Things Work" CD-ROMs)



Information in the literature - books, encyclopedias, and internet resources - is excessively abundant. Since astronomy is such a rapidly growing science, you will need to be certain that you utilize updated information. The project you have chosen is a broad field so be certain to narrow your study relatively quickly. Find a few areas in the field which are rich in chemistry and physics concepts and begin to zero in on these areas. As you narrow your field, you will want to give attention to areas which allow for experimental investigation. This will be the hardest task involved in your project. Experimental investigation can include the use of gas discharge tubes, use of the Van de Graaf generator (as an aid to study solar winds), use of magnets and related instruments, use of your own telescope and use of internet resources which provide actual astronomic data to students.


Return to:

Astronomy Project

Project Home Page

Atronomy Project

Astronomy Links

Basic Research Qs

Collabor'n Ideas

The Lab Report

Project Pitfalls

Scoring Rubrics

Project Timeline

Other GBS Resources

GBS Physics Page

Physics 163 Page

Physics Projects Home Page

The Refrigerator

The Physics Classroom

Multimedia Physics Studios

The GBS Physics staff invite you to send electronic mail:

Tom Henderson

Howard Jenewein

John Lewis

Neil Schmidgall

Dave Smith

Suzanne Webb

Brian Wegley

Questions and comments can be sent to Tom Henderson.

This page last updated on 4/20/99.