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COSMOS and FOX40′s Student of the Week Experiments

Together with our new hit series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey & the California Capital Airshow, FOX40 brings you the Student of the Week.

To enter your child to become a Student of the Week, click here and fill out the form.

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COSMOS Student of the Week; Why Oil and Water Don’t Mix

Darren Peck explains why oil and water won’t mix to our COSMOS Student of the Week, Wendy Yang. Wendy just finished up her freshman year at Monterey Trail High School.


Demonstrating Thermal Energy; Cosmos Student of the Week

Darren Peck shows COSMOS Student of the Week Justin Thomas how to demonstrate heat transfer activity with a glass bottle, a penny, and a cold bowl of ice water.

cosmosCosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, episode 11, “The Immortals” explores the nature of life in the cosmos and the different ways – some real, others, highly speculative – that life devises to spread its messages through the cosmos and perhaps, even, to conquer death.

Grade Levels

Click here for the complete Quest
Episode Summary
Must we die? Are there beings in the cosmos who live forever, traveling on an endless
journey down the river of time?
Our quest begins on the royal flotilla of the young Akkadian Princess Enheduanna, as it
drifts down the Euphrates River on a night in 2300 B.C.E. She is the first person in history
with a byline, the first author whose name is attached to the particular words she wrote.
More than 5,000 years after her death she still has the power to speak to us. One of
Enheduanna’s poems is a vision of the goddess of love conquering the universe. She is our starting point for a meditation on the forms that immortality can take.
The majestic walls of Uruq (Iraq) rise again as we meet the world’s oldest surviving hero,
Gilgamesh. Prototype of all superheroes, his journey is a search for immortality. He
encounters the wise man, Utnapushtim, whom the gods instructed to build an ark and gather up all the animals, a thousand years before Noah.
They all still live thousands of years after their deaths, but life itself sends its own messages
across billions of years. It is written within us, inside us in our DNA. The peace of an Egyptian village is shattered on a morning in the early 20th century by a meteorite. There was a message inscribed inside it that could not be read for another seventy years – not until we sent our robots to Mars. Life as a traveler on a heroic journey: Its various strategies for moving around the planet, between the planets and perhaps, between the stars and galaxies. Actual footage from 1946 of the first deliberate attempt by intelligent life to communicate with another world — and the cosmic fate of that message. Do civilizations have finite lifespans? What happened to Uruq? Why did the great ancient civilizations perish? Red dwarf stars live for trillions of years. What would intelligent beings do if they had an eternity to develop their understanding of the universe?

A trip to the Cosmic Calendar of the Future and the historic events on Earth that might
happen in the first seconds of January 1st of the new Cosmic Year.

Discussion Topics
• What are some parallels between the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh and the genetic code of life?

• How did scientists discover the origin of the meteorite that struck the Egyptian village
of Nakhla in 1911?
• What have been some of the causes of the deaths of civilizations?
• What are the special conditions that might exist on the world of a red dwarf star in a
giant elliptical galaxy?

Online Resources
Universal Newsreel from January 1, 1946 about Project Diana, excerpted in this episode
In this animated short, TED-Ed instructor Jill Tarter explores the Drake Equation, the
mathematical formula calculating the possibility of undiscovered life. It’s an equation with
so many unknowns, there is no “right” answer – for now.

Relevant Scenes from COSMOS
• Act One: Lady of the Largest Heart
• Act Two: Another Kind of Ark
• Act Three: Sending Our Stories Into Space
• Act Four: What About Civilizations That Self-Destruct?
• Act Five: Shortcuts in the Fabric of Spacetime
• Act Six: Cosmic Calendar of the Future
For a deeper dive, more subjects touched on in Episode 11: 

• Uruk

• 2300 B.C.E.
• Akkadian civilization and the rise of cities
• Epic of Gilgamesh
• The flood narrative
• Invention of writing
• Genetic code
• Origin of life
• Nakhla meteorite
• Martian surface and atmosphere

• Meteorites as interplanetary transports for life
• Tenacity of life in space, in Antarctic depths, and in violent impacts
• Biological strategies for dispersal
• Comets as interstellar transports for life
• First scientific attempt at interstellar communication
• The outer reaches of the radiosphere
• The life expectancy of civilizations
• Abrupt climate change
• Supernovas
• Toba and the ‘volcanic winter”
• Tool-making in 74,000 B.C.E. central India
• 16th century microbial destruction of North, Central, and Southern American
• Current environmental challenges
• Communication with non-human animals on Earth
• Drake Equation 2.0, the potential lifetime of a Red Dwarf civilization
• A technologically feasible human future

Written by Ann Druyan
Produced by Cosmos Studios

All rights reserved, Cosmos Studios. For distribution to FOX affiliates to accompany the original broadcast distribution of COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey.


Amazing Magnetic Force & Static Electricity

Darren Peck invites Christopher Migasi, the Cosmos Student of the Week, to help him with an experiment demonstrating magnetism.

cosmosCOSMOS; A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 10, “The Electric Boy,” is the dramatic story of a singular life in science that led directly to the electronic media on which our civilization depends.

Grade Levels

Click here to download the full Quest

Episode Summary
We command countless legions of electrons. They make possible our way of life, our instantaneous communications with each other and with our robotic emissaries at the solar system’s frontier. Michael Faraday, the man whose genius Albert Einstein revered, was the first to put these invisible armies at our disposal. He lived an against-all-odds-story that cannot help but engage and inspire.

We begin with the mystery that bedeviled Isaac Newton: How do the planets know that
the distant Sun is pulling on them? How do all the apples know how to fall?
As if in a dream, we travel to the moment in Einstein’s childhood when his father gave him
a simple toy. This small gift prompted his first inkling that “something deeply hidden must
lie behind all things.”

Faraday was a child of 19th century poverty, one from whom nothing much was expected. He was a lifelong Christian fundamentalist who had only a brief few months of schooling. He grew up to become the founder of scientific field theory, inventing the motor, the generator, and the dynamo. He is the bridge to our age of communication, including television, iPhones, tablets, and so much else. Born into a world that expected little of him beyond servitude, he rose to the pinnacle of science and society. His legendary humility moved him to reject Queen Victoria’s repeated offers of knighthood and a final resting place along side Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey.

Faraday’s “All About Eve” relationship to his mentor Sir Humphry Davy, his enduring love
for his wife Sarah, his invention of public science education for children, his battle with
memory loss and mental illness, and the dramatic discovery he made in old age despite
these challenges, are all part of the romance of this remarkable life. Along the way we meet the (non-human) beings, who discovered magnetic fields long before Faraday.

When Faraday attempted to prove his greatest insight, he hit a wall – due to his lack of
formal education he couldn’t do the math. This is where the aristocratic young
mathematician James Clerk Maxwell heroically saves the day. Maxwell translates Faraday’s
plainspoken words into the mathematical equations that made modern communications
possible. Faraday’s embrace of Maxwell’s work continues the theme of mentoring at its

Discussion Topics
• Isaac Newton as an adult and Albert Einstein as a child were both fascinated by the puzzle of “action at a distance.” How did the sun tell the planets how to move without touching them, Newton wondered. Einstein questioned how the magnets moved the compass needle. How did Faraday answer these questions? How did he demonstrate the correctness of his answer through experiments?

• How did Faraday solve the question of continuous motion and what were the social
implications of his solution?
• Faraday was able to demonstrate the existence of an electromagnetic field, but
James Clark Maxwell was able to turn Faraday’s prose into mathematical equations.
How did this make possible the later inventions of radio and television?
• While humans did not discover the existence of fields until Faraday’s breakthrough,
other living things had been using them as navigational aids for millions of years.
Please give some examples.

Online Resources
Faraday’s Electromagnetic Lab:
(Please note: Requires PCs to run the Java Runtime Environment, which may require a

Relevant Scenes from COSMOS
• Act One: Another Aspect of the Same Mystery
• Act Two: The Attention of the Great Davy
• Act Three: Sir Humphrey’s Greatest Discovery
• Act Four: The Mysterious Invisible Forces
• Act Five: The Earth Itself is A Giant Magnet
• Act Six: Plain old Michael Faraday
For a deeper dive, more subjects touched on in Episode 10: !
• Gravity
• Magnetism
• Michael Faraday
• Humphry Davy
• Invention of the motor, transformer, and generator
• Electro-magnetism
• Lines of force
• Biological magnetic field detectors
• Geological explanation of the Earth’s magnetic field
• Cosmic rays
• Solar wind

• Aurora borealis
• Maxwell equations
• Birth of electronic media
• Earth’s magnetic field

Written by Ann Druyan
Produced by Cosmos Studios

All rights reserved, Cosmos Studios. For distribution to FOX affiliates to accompany the original broadcast distribution of COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey.






Cosmos Student of the Week; Water Tornadoes

Darren Peck and Jatziri Torres, a second grader from Bowling Green Charter School Chacon Language and Science Academy, show us how natural phenomena like tornadoes and volcanoes shaped the earth.

cosmosCOSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 9, “The Lost Worlds of Planet Earth,” the Ship of the Imagination takes us on a journey through space and time to grasp how the autobiography of the Earth is written in its atoms, its oceans, its continents, and all living things.

Grade Levels

Click here to download the complete Quest 

Episode Summary
We’ll travel to the Earth of the Carboniferous Epoch of hundreds of millions of years ago,
where an oxygen overdose made it possible for dragonflies to grow two-foot wingspans and for plants to soar a hundred feet high. Something new, called “lignin,” caused a biological revolution: trees. Lignin also laid a trap for beings hundreds of millions of years in the future – us.

The book of geological time may be read in the Joggins Cliffs of Nova Scotia. We will thumb through its “layer cake” pages and decipher its history of the world. What kind of planet has a purple ocean and a green sky? Ours did, a quarter of a billion years ago. The great ocean that once flourished in the middle of Texas comes back to life so that we will never be able to look at a desert landscape again without imagining what it once must have been.

Alfred Wegener’s life provides one of the great cautionary tales of what happens when the
scientific community fails to openly evaluate new ideas. Wegener solved one of the central
mysteries of geology, but died the laughingstock of his field. It wasn’t until 50 years later
that Marie Tharp came along and proved him right. And, Tharp herself had to battle
another kind of prejudice, long after she discovered the single largest feature on the face of
the Earth.

We’ll board the Ship of the Imagination to dive into the ocean to explore the largest submarine mountain range. We’ll plunge into its deepest canyons to meet life that knows nothing of the Sun. And we’ll venture deeper still, to the Earth’s mantle.

The past is another planet – many, actually – and we will visit several of them and ride the
Ship of the Imagination to a vision of the Earth a quarter of a billion years into the future.

Discussion Topics
• In the history of our planet, few things have been as influential as a plant molecule called lignin. How would the Earth have been different in the past and different now without it?
• What is the difference between a fossil and a living thing which has died?
• Of the five great mass extinctions, the Permian was by far the most cataclysmic.
What were the causes and consequences of what we call “The Great Dying”?
• We live on the crust of a seething cauldron – and yet, in our everyday lives, we feel its effect. Why is that?
• What was your neighborhood like 250 million years ago?

Relevant Scenes from COSMOS
• Act One: The Past is Many Planets
• Act Two: A Tropical Inland Sea
• Act Three: A World Without Sunlight
• Act Four: How the Earth Shaped Our Destiny
• Act Five: A Balmy Stretch Between Ice Ages

• Act Six: Tiny Beings on the Skin of One of the Smaller Planets

For a deeper dive, more subjects touched on in Episode 9:
• Oxygen overdose of the Carboniferous Period
• Upper limits on insect size
• Lignin
• Photosynthetic transactions in carbon dioxide
• Geological layer cakes
• Causes and effects of the Permian
• Extinction event
• Chemistry of the Permian atmosphere
• Climate
• Causes of the death of the Permian ocean
• A survivor’s evolutionary line to us
• Formation of the Atlantic Ocean
• Mapmaker
• Abraham Ortelius 16th century vision of the Earth
• Continental drift
• Alfred Wegener
• Marie Tharp’s discovery of the Atlantic Rift Valley
• Mountain ranges of the deep oceans
• Chemosynthesis
• Extremophiles
• Geology of the Earth’s mantle and core

• Triassic Newark, New Jersey
• Volcanism of the Deccan Traps
• Formation of the Mediterranean and the Isthmus of Panama
• Climate change and human evolution
• Gravitational influence of Jupiter and Venus on Earth’s Ice Ages
• Interglacial periods
• Geological future of the Mediterranean

Written by Ann Druyan
Produced by Cosmos Studios

All rights reserved, Cosmos Studios. For distribution to FOX affiliates to accompany the original broadcast distribution of COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey.

Cameron Wyatt of Recengy Park Elementary helps Darren Peck with this week’s Cosmos Science Experiment. The two of them show us how darker colors absorb heat.

cosmosCOSMOS; A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 8, “Sisters of the Sun,” weaves the mythic and astrophysical lives of the stars into the history of the role women have played in our deepening understanding of nature.

Grade Levels

Download the entire Quest for Students

Episode Summary
The constellation of the Pleiades provides a vehicle for us to explore myth, astrophysics,
and the sociology of science. Our distant human ancestors used the Pleiades as a clock to time their planting seasons, making agriculture possible and as a result our species moved indoors and lost sight of them altogether. For the early Celtic people, the Pleiades became a symbol for what we now call Halloween. This open star cluster also played a role in the Native American Kiowa legend of the formation of the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. When the ancient Greeks looked up at the Pleiades, they also saw Orion lustfully chasing the seven sisters across the sky – a hot pursuit lasting eons. The modern “sisters of the sun” were a team of early 20th century female astronomers at Harvard, led by two deaf scientists. Annie Jump Cannon and Henrietta Swan Leavitt worked with dozens of women to classify some 400,000 stars. It’s also the story of young British beauty Cecilia Payne, the genius who joined forces with them. Payne’s courageous defiance of the world’s leading astronomer gave us our understanding of the true
composition of the stars. The Ship of the Imagination makes us an eyewitness to the lives and deaths of stars – including our own Sun. We travel through the Window on the Future to experience the last perfect day on Earth… And to the world of a binary star system to witness its own cataclysmic demise.

We venture deep into the Australian outback, away from the light pollution of cities to see
the stars as sharply as our ancestors must have seen them. We are searching for Eta
Carina, some 7500 light years away, and the evil twin that will gravitationally torment it until
it becomes… not a mere supernova, but a hypernova that will one day light up the night in
the southern hemisphere like another full moon!

We visit a Tuscan vineyard to see how sunshine is transformed into moonshine.
And finally, a trip to the planet of a star orbiting a globular cluster where a still “more
glorious dawn” awaits –- not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise, a morning filled with two hundred
billion suns – the rising of the Milky Way.

Discussion Topics
• In this episode, we explore two mythic explanations for the existence of the Pleiades.
Pick a constellation and find three myths from different cultures that explain how it came to be in the sky.
• There are many different kinds of stars. Pick one kind and write its biography.

• Novas, supernovas, and hypernovas are three of the fates a star can have. What is it
about a star that leads to such a dramatic destiny?
• How is it possible to take a star’s light, its spectrum, and know what it’s made of and
what its fate will be?

• The Carina Nebula is a star-making machine. If you could travel as fast as light, it
would take you 50 years to cross it. Where does the matter that makes these new
stars come from?

Relevant Scenes from COSMOS
• Act One: Pickering’s Computers
• Act Two: Annie Jump Cannon’s Story of Starlight
• Act Three: What It All Meant
• Act Four: The Final Living Creatures on Our Lonely Planet
• Act Five: Something Far More Catastrophic
• Act Six: A Still More Glorious Dawn

For a deeper dive, more subjects touched on in Episode 8: 
• Ancient Green and Kiowa myths of the Pleiades
• Origin of Halloween
• Annie Jump Cannon
• Henrietta Swan Leavitt
• The Draper Star Catalogue
• Stellar spectra
• Classification and atmospheres
• Cecelia Payne
• The fates of the Moon, Earth, and Sun
• Binary and other multiple star systems
• Supernovas
• Eta Carina hypernova
• Energy
• The fate of the stars in Orion and the Pleiades

Written by Ann Druyan
Produced by Cosmos Studios

All rights reserved, Cosmos Studios. For distribution to FOX affiliates to accompany the original broadcast distribution of COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey.