LESSON 4 - How do satellites work?

Students will:

  • Model how satellites transmit data.
  • Learn that satellites transmit numbers not images.

Materials Needed:

Digital Art Worksheet

Manila file folders


Ask students to predict how satellites collect information about the earth. Explain to students that today’s activity will model how satellites transmit their data to the computers on earth.


Give each student the digital art worksheet. Divide the class into groups of two. Have the students read the directions on the worksheet then begin the activity. Provide a manila file folder for each group to use to cover their "data."


When students complete the activity, ask them the following questions. Based on this activity, how do satellites transmit data? In reality, what is the sender? What is the receiver? What is the data? What happens to the data when it reaches the "receiver?" Did your partner end up with the same image as yours? Why or why not? Ask students to reflect on their earlier predictions and refine their definition of how satellites transmit data.


Ask student to predict what would happen to the quality of an image if there were more squares in the grid. What are some advantages or disadvantages? Explain that a grid with more squares would provide finer detail, or more information about the given area.


Ask students to write a letter explaining to an alien in space how humans receive information from satellites.

Tips for Teachers

  • Instead of using manila file folders, students can also use their notebooks or textbooks.
  • Simple pictures work best. See sample pictures for digital art activity.



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