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Balloon and Button Spectroscopy: A Hands-On Approach to Light and
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Without question, one of the most useful tools an astronomer or physicist can employ to
study the universe is spectroscopy. However, for students in introductory physics or astronomy classes,
spectroscopy is a relatively abstract concept that combines new
such as thermal
radiation, atomic physics, and the wave and particle nature of light and
matter. In response to this conceptual hurdle, we have developed an exercise where
balloons represent stars, buttons represent photons, and students produce and interpret spectra by
sorting colored buttons.
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