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Activity - Writing to Persuade

Days Needed 2
Grade Level 11 - 12


Students will demonstrate the ability to use text information and data to persuade a reading audience of the benefits of using microcalorimeter detectors to do X-ray astronomy. Students will summarize in their own words various reading selections, and will use results from previous excercises in their persuasion writing.

Science and Math Standards

Content Standard 2:
- Mathematics as Communication
Content Standard F:
- Science and Technology
  Content Standard G:
- Science in Personal and Social Perspectives


    Math Students should have the ability to understand graphical data and statistics.
    Science Students should understand the concept of spectra, as well as the background material on the microcalorimeter. Students should have completed the activity to identify elements in supernova remnants.


This final assignment will serve as closure. We've taken a close look at many different topics - yet they are all related. We've learned about doing astronomy at different energies, about the life cycles of the stars, about how new technology can improve our understanding of the way the Universe works. In this assignment, all that information will be integrated into a writing exercise.


Give your students the following assignment:

The Assignment

Invent an X-ray satellite, name it, draw a picture of it. This satellite will have a microcalorimeter on it. Write a one- to two-page persuasive letter addressed to your Congressperson or essay for your local newspaper in order to obtain funding for your X-ray astronomy mission. Your writing should include the following:

  • A one-paragraph description of what a microcalorimeter does
  • The type of information and data that would be gathered by this satellite
  • Why its data would be unique to it and why other satellites like Chandra could not duplicate it.
  • Detailed arguments (at least three) as to why funding this project will benefit the scientific community as well as society.


The following scoring tool should be used to evaluate the persuasive essay. Listed are the items needed for a grade of excellence. Any one incorrect item or missing item will lower the grade one level.

  • Concepts are appropriate and accurate
  • Interpretation of data includes support
  • Appropriate vocabulary, language mechanics, and complete sentences are used
  • The writing is organized and focused
  • Purpose of the writing is clearly carried out

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

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