How the Sun Sees You

Just a quick post, to share a small “a-ha” moment that I hope means I’ve successfully solidified my understanding of the Next Generation Science Standard’s “3D” learning. As a Science minor, and former middle school science teacher, I’ve always believed in the power of providing students with discrepant events (p.s. we’re supposed to call them phenomena now); the idea that you present some sort of demonstration or model of a real world occurrence that challenges students’ pre-conceived notions.

The idea of providing an engaging piece of phenomena isn’t a new theory (think about how “anticipatory set” was drilled into you during pre-service days), but the ways in which we can present them to students has drastically changed from my pre-service (and even science teaching) days. Consider the following, the sun emits UV radiation in a form of “invisible light.” Human beings can’t see it, but we do have technology that allows us to observe what it might be like if we could see it.

The phenomena here is the startlingly realization that our bodies react to naturally occurring processes which we cannot see in equally opaque ways. It’s actually quite fascinating! Sure, kids can understand using microscopes and telescopes to observe things too small for us to see, or too far away. But actually seeing something that’s invisible to our senses, that’s pretty cool.

It turns out that TJ McKenna has been stockpiling interesting visual phenomena for NGSS purposes over at It’s an incredibly more mature, curated, and supported resource than the video story problems I was creating for the same purpose, and I’m happy that thinkers much bigger than myself (of which there are exhaustingly many) are doing the hard work to help organize digital tool kits like this to support teachers; not behind a paywall, or a text-book subscription. Just wide open out on the internet for others to use.


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