Name: Julia
Status: educator
Grade: 9-12
Location: MA
Country: N/A
Date: 12/25/2004

Question:
Do you have a short lesson plan I could use with my 10th
graders on calculating the sun earth distance? I have read the one sheet
write up, however, how can I teach the calculations in 50 minutes or so?

Replies:
It takes explaining Kepler's Laws of planetary motion and a bit of algebra,
but Leon Lederman's book entitled "Symmetry--and the Beautiful Universe has
a great two page explanation of the measurement of the mean Earth--Sun
distance, otherwise known as the astronomical unit (AU). Chapter 7 pages
144-145. See also footnote 5 on page334. An additional, gem is this book is
his biographical thread of female mathematician Emmy Noether (the most
important female mathematician in history in his estimation). Her story is
really quite amazing. She is on a par with Gauss, Euler, and Hilbert in his
estimation. I would wager that not one physicist/chemist or even
athematician
would recognize her name even though her mathematics is the basis of
understanding the laws of conservation and relativity. The book "Symmetry"
is pretty much a tribute to this remarkable mathematician who belies the
fable that mathematics is a "man's" game. (Chapter 5)

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