Student Activities

University of Alberta observatory domes

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Updated November 27, 2011

Science Teams

Two stages of teamwork will be used to conduct this project. This is designed to involve as many students as possible, and to model how scientific research is done.

First Stage 

All members of the class should have read the page on How to Use Your FM Radio to Detect Meteors the previous night. Describe the responsibilities of the 6 teams listed below. Divide your class into the 6 teams formed in the radio listening activity. You can ask if anyone is interested in switching teams if they are particularly interested in the tasks of another team. 

The task of each team is described below, each with specific responsibilities. Activities will involve a combination of group activities and individual tasks. The estimated time for each group to finish these tasks is two days.

Teams and Their Responsibilities

Resource material for each team can be found by following the links at the beginning of each team description.

  1. Timing. Research what is involved in coordinating the time to a standard that will allow data to be compared between schools using the Sky Scan meteor observing system. What is Universal Coordinated Time (UTC)? What are time zones? How does Mountain Standard Time relate to Universal Time? Test the clock on the classroom computer for accuracy. Compare the clock time on the computer with a standards based clock from the Internet.
  2. Receiver. Responsible for ensuring that the receiver is set to the proper settings so that observations will occur properly. This group should understand the difference between FM and AM signals from the radio listening activity. Determine a clear frequency with no local station and one that matches with a distant radio station as per the radio station finder page.
  3. Antenna. As a test problem, the Antenna team will design first a folded dipole antenna and then a 6 element Yagi antenna by calculating the dimensions of pieces for each type of antenna using the information on the How to Build an Antenna page. After the Frequency team has recommended a clear frequency and a distant radio station the Antenna Design Team should use their learning to design an antenna for that frequency.
  4. Software. Learn about how the sound card is used in this project to sample data from the FM receiver and how Radio Sky Pipe (RSP) is used to record the data.
  5. Data. This team will render the data into a form suitable to be sent to Sky Scan Central for posting to your school results page. They will also develop different ways of showing data for reporting to the rest of the class.
  6. Web Heads. Use the Internet via the meteor section of the Links page to learn more about how radio meteor detection works and work being done around the world on radio meteor detection.

Second Stage

Once the teams have completed their research and studied their area of responsibility, have each team report back to the class as a whole what they have learned from their research. 

Split the members of each team up so that new teams are formed with representatives from each of the First Stage teams. The purpose of these teams is to make predictions and test them against the actual results of meteor observations that will be made using the class's FM radio observatory. Use material at the University of Ghent website to make predictions about meteor activity during a specified period of observation using your school observatory.

Copyright 1999-2015 by Sky Scan, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. 

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the 

Edmonton Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Department of Physics (University of Alberta)

and the

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

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