Invisible Universe: The Electromagnetic
Spectrum from Radio Waves to Gamma Rays
Written by Stephen Pompea and Alan Gould
with Lincoln Bergman
In this GEMS guide intriguing activities deepen student understanding
of the electromagnetic spectrum, enabling students to detect and
consider wavelengths other than visible light. Activities feature
energy stations, including infrared (TV remote); microwave (pager);
ultraviolet (black light) and other devices. Students come up
with their own tests to see what blocks each wavelength, and what
does not. They learn how these other wavelengths can be used to
"see" things we cannot see with our eyesallowing
space scientists to detect and image objects, phenomena, and sources
of energy far off in space. Colorful examples of these images
are included in the guide.
One of the greatest mysteries of all is what causes gamma ray
bursts. These bursts are the most powerful explosions in the Universe
and occur about once a day! Their origin is unknown, although
there are several theories. Students learn about NASA's 2003 Swift
mission, with a specially-equipped satellite to further explore
the causes of gamma ray bursts.
The guide is for middle school, suitable with adaptations to
9th and above. The Physical and Earth Science content of this
guide is well correlated to the National Science Education Standards.
Tour of the Invisible Universe
What materials are needed to present this unit? See the full list.