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Question sheet: Sky Dust Keeps Falling on Your Head

SCIENCE

Before reading:

  1. Dust makes you cough and sneeze, so why might scientists think it's worth sticking their noses into that topic?
  2. Where might dust come from in the first place?

During reading:

  1. What three different methods do researchers use to collect dust?
  2. What tools are useful for examining dust?
  3. What kinds of information might skillful detectives find in the dust that's circulating thousands of miles above Earth?
  4. How might dust collected in space be different from the dust found in a barn or on a windowsill in a big city?

After reading:

  1. What new sources of dust did you learn about by reading this article?
  2. What advantages do we, as students here on Earth, have over even the most complex instruments used by astronauts in space programs? What can these instruments explore that we never could study by ourselves?
  3. If you wanted to collect dust samples, what tools might you use? Design a simple system. Try it out! Look at the website http://www.skydust.org .
  4. Do you recommend spending school time on a project collecting and analyzing

    dust? Why or why not?


LANGUAGE ARTS

  1. Look at the article's first paragraph. What kinds of words and ideas does it use to get you involved in the story? Can you think of another way of writing the introduction to make readers interested in dust?
  2. Pretend that you have a chance to interview Dan Murray, the scientist from the University of Rhode Island. What might you ask if you wanted to make the article longer?
  3. If you were asked to name a second spacecraft (the one after "Stardust") that is designed to collect and analyze space dust, what might you call it? Why?

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