Science in the Media:
Session 1

Gathering Background Information

There are scientific concepts students must know before they will be successful in their attempts to communicate the scientific findings of the Swift satellite and the Suzaku X-ray observatory. This lesson will aid them in gathering background knowledge.


Estimated class time: 2-3 class periods

  • Class 1: Introduction, group formation, allocation of roles, and independent research
  • Class 2: Finishing independent research, sharing research with group members, assimilating research into presentation
  • Class 3: Upload presentation to a sharing website, peer review, and wrap-up discussion

Key Concepts

  • Electromagnetic spectrum: visible light, ultraviolet, X-ray
  • Black holes: stellar-mass and supermassive
  • Active galactic nuclei
  • X-ray telescopes

Instructional Delivery

  1. Introduce background information. Students will need some astronomical background information to interpret the scientific discovery of the Swift satellite and Suzaku X-ray observatory properly. The instructor should display the key concepts for the students to view and briefly take an oral assessment of the students’ base knowledge prior to the assignment.
  2. Gathering background. This is a group-based assignment with individual responsibilities. The students will be assigned to groups of three. Each member of the group will be responsible for one topic (black holes, active galactic nuclei, or satellites) and should be given a handout with their topic’s title, list of the websites to be used to find the requested information, and questions to answer. (Note that some websites may have changed or become unavailable. If so keep a list of good websites for future classes.)
  3. Black holes, AGN and satellite presentations. When the students have completed gathering information on their topics, each group will prepare a presentation to share their findings. The students then upload their presentations to the teacher’s designated website, for all students to review. Finally, the students review their peer’s presentations using the Presentation Grading Rubric.
  4. Wrap up. After the students have completed their peer reviews and summary worksheets, create a class discussion to prepare the students for Session 2. Ask the students what difficulties did they experience? Were the presentations directed to a specific audience? Would the presentations be different if they had to present to another audience? Who might be interested in this subject? Where might those who are interested in this topic learn of their research? If you had to present new information to various audience types and through different media publications, what should you as a journalist consider? Allow this to serve as a wrap up of Session 1 and a lead into Session 2.

Student Handouts

<– General Lesson Information | Science in the Media Home | Session 2 –>