Physical Science Standard B


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T
heme: Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence




Title: The Planets in Our Solar System
Overview: A planet is a large body which reflects the light of a star around which it revolves. There are 8 planets that make up our solar system. The 4 inner planets, closest to the Sun, are solid spheres of rock. They include Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. The 4 outer planets are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. They are large gaseous planets with rings. All 8 planets travel around the Sun in a different orbit.
Grade Level: Grades 2-4
Subject Matter: Science
Duration: 3-5 periods of 30-40 minutes
National Standards Addressed:

Properties of Objects

Physical Science Standard B





  • Position and Motion of Objects


Earth and Space Science Standard D


  • Objects in the Sky


Objectives:


  • Students will name the planets in order from the Sun.

  • Students will identify characteristics of each planet.

  • Students will research a planet of their choice.



Materials:

  • Computers with internet access

  • 8 ½ x 11 white sheet of paper (one per child)

  • 8 ½ x 11 white sheet of paper with a 6 inch diameter circle on it (one per child)

  • 9 pieces of 9 x 12 inch paper or tag board for signs: Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune


Procedure:

Day 1:

Introduction to the planets

  • Assess prior knowledge: Ask students to name what planets they know and something about that planet.

  • Write the names of the 8 planets on the board. Discuss how they move (rotation and revolution around the Sun).

  • Discuss the vast distance between the Sun and all the planets.

  • Go outdoors to do an orbit activity so students can get an idea of the distances between the planets.

  • Have a sign made for the Sun and each of the planets for a student to hold.

  • Give the ‘Sun’ sign to one student and have the student stand in one place. Take one step from the sun. One student will hold the Mercury sign. One more step from Mercury is Venus. One more step from Venus is Earth. One large step to Mars. At this point you can stop adding planets and demonstrate revolution. The Sun stands still, and the other 4 planets revolve around it.

  • Next add the outer planets. Walk 10 steps from Mars to Jupiter. At each point have one student hold the sign with the planet name. This gives them an idea of the vast space between the planets. Walk 11 steps from Jupiter to Saturn; twenty-five steps to Uranus; twenty-eight steps to Neptune. Each step represents about 36 million miles.

  • Use this website to share pictures and facts of each planet.

http://www.frontiernet.net/~kidpower/astronomy.html
Day 2:

  • Review the planets order, and discuss something they may have learned in the previous lesson.

  • Discuss Pluto. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) passed a resolution defining a planet. It has to have these 3 properties:

  • celestial body that orbits the sun

  • massive enough that its own gravity causes it to form a spherical shape

  • has a clear neighborhood around its orbit

*Explain to students that at this time Pluto’s planet status was taken away although some books or references may still have it listed as a planet. It is considered one of the dwarf planets beyond Neptune.

  • Listen to song about the planets.

http://www.kidsknowit.com/educational-songs/play-educational-song.php?song=The%20Planets

  • Ask children if they think life as we know it exists on other planets. Listen to their ideas.

  • Listen to POP #1835 Astrobiology: Extreme Environments. Ask what planet scientists think may have had life on it (Mars). Listen a second time for where they are studying life on Earth. That may help them with discovering life on Mars. (Antarctica because it is an extreme environment. Like Mars, it is very cold and dry. Scientists believe that the lichen that live in the rocks in Antarctica may be a clue to the type of life that may have existed or exists on Mars.)

  • Use the following websites and have students look up information on a planet. Assign or let each child choose a planet to become an expert on.

http://nasascience.nasa.gov/kids/kids-solar-system

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/kids/index.cfm

http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/solar_system_level1/solar_system.html

http://kids.f9.net.uk/

  • While taking turns on the computers, students can design their own planet. Give each child a paper with a 6 inch diameter circle drawn on it.

      • Instructions: Discover your own planet. Design this circle to be your own unique planet. Give it a name, and color it the way you would like it to look. Your planet may have rings, moons, volcanoes, or giant craters.

Day 3:

  • Share the planets the students designed yesterday. These can be displayed.

  • Discuss what planets have moons. Talk about the Earth’s moon also.

  • Show class a picture of Jupiter and Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.




http://pds.jpl.nasa.gov/planets/captions/jupiter/jupiter.htm

http://www.seasky.org/skygallery/skygallery.html


  • Listen to POP #2818 Astrobiology: Europa.

Discuss what scientists believe about Jupiter’s moon, Europa. (They believe that it may have liquid water.) Review what they know about water and the possibility of life.

  • Listen to POP #1834 Astrobiology: Europa. This gives more information about the possibility of water on Europa. Ask why it would be so difficult to explore Europa.

  • Have students continue to research a planet.

  • Their finished product will be a Postcard from a Planet.

  • Give each child a blank paper with one side divided in half. That side is where a note will be written and addressed. (Like a real postcard.) The note will include at least 3 facts learned about the planet. The other side will be blank, and each child will draw a picture of the planet they researched.


Day 4:

  • Students may need a few days to research their planet for their postcard. They can use any of the websites cited. Some even have games and activities on the planets that they can do.

  • A sample evaluation for the postcard is in the handouts.



Scroll down for more…

Handout:
PLANET POSTCARD

EVALUATION

FRONT:

Interesting colored picture (points possible 3) ___
BACK:

Address: name, address written correctly, spelling

Capitalization, punctuation

(points possible: 10) ___
Stamp designed (1) ___
Written message:

Spelling (2) ___
Capitalization (2) ___
Punctuation (2) ___
Sentence structure (2) ___
Greeting (2) ___
Closing (2) ___
Signature (1) ___
Accurate, interesting facts about the planet

  1. ___


TOTAL POINTS: (30) ___

Additional Resources

Web Images



Name: Mars

URL: http://www.seasky.org/skygallery/skygallery.html

Caption: This global snapshot of Mars was taken by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. Images from 12 orbits were combines to produce the image. Bluish-white water ice clouds hang above the Tharsis volcanoes.

Credit: NASA
Name: Jupiter

URL: http://pds.jpl.nasa.gov/planets/captions/jupiter/jupiter.htm

Caption: Jupiter is a "gas giant"; all gas giants are similar to Jupiter in composition. Jupiter's diameter is 11 times Earth's diameter and 20% larger than Saturn's, making it the largest planet in the solar system. Gas giant are also very much larger than terrestrial planets. This color-enhanced image of Jupiter was taken by Voyager 1.

Credit: NASA
Name: Solar System 1

URL: http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/solar_system_level2/solar_system_image.html

Caption: Solar system collage.

Credit: NASA
Name: Venus

URL: http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/venus/images/global_image.html

Caption: This is a global view of the surface of Venus.

Credit: NASA
Name: Mercury

URL: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap011124.html

Caption: Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, remains the most mysterious of the Solar System's inner planets. Hiding in the Sun's glare it is a difficult target for Earth bound observers.

Credit: NASA
Name: Earth West

URL: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=2429

Caption: This spectacular “blue marble” image is the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date.

Credit: NASA
Name: Saturn

URL: http://ael.gsfc.nasa.gov/saturnSaturn.shtml

Caption: The butterscotch-colored, ringed Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and the second largest in the Solar System, smaller only than Jupiter. It has an equatorial diameter of 119,300 kilometers (74,130 miles), and its volume would enclose 750 Earths!

Credit: NASA
Name: Uranus

URL: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/education/schoolyard_ss/sss_uranus.html

Caption: Once considered one of the blander-looking planets, Uranus has been revealed as a dynamic world with some of the brightest clouds in the outer solar system and 11 rings.

Credit: NASA
Name: Neptune 2

URL: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/image/planetary/neptune/neptune.jpg

Caption: Color image of Neptune showing its "Great Dark Spot".

Credit: NASA
Name: Mars 2

URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Mars_Hubble.jpg

Caption: Mars as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Credit: NASA
Name: Signs of Water

URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Nasa_mars_opportunity_rock_water_150_eng_02mar04.jpg

Caption: Photo of microscopic rock forms indicating past signs of water, taken by Opportunity.

Credit: NASA
Name: Jupiter Moons

URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Jupiter.moons2.jpg

Caption: Jupiter's 4 Galilean moons, in a composite image comparing their sizes and the size of Jupiter (Great Red Spot visible). From the top they are: Callisto, Ganymede, Europa and Io.

Credit: NASA


Web Image Galleries
NSSDC Photo Gallery (solar system) – NASA
http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/photo_gallery/

Web Links
Our Solar System – Windows to the Universe / University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/our_solar_system/solar_system.html
Exploring the Planets – Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

http://www.nasm.si.edu/ceps/etp/etp.htm
Welcome to the Planets – NASA

http://pds.jpl.nasa.gov/planets/welcome.htm
Cyberspace – Thinkquest.org

http://library.thinkquest.org/12659/main.html?tqskip1=1&tqtime=0615
Fast Facts (planets, solar system) - Space Telescope Science Institute

http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/eds/tools/topic/solarsystem.php.p=Teaching+tools%40%2Ceds%2Ctools%2C
Our Solar System: A Galactic Neighborhood (see subtopics in left column) – NASA

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=SolarSys&Display=Kids
The Solar System – Star Child / NASA

http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/solar_system_level1/solar_system.html
Europa – Nine Planets

http://www.nineplanets.org/europa.html
Jupiter’s Moons – Astronomy.com

http://www.kidsastronomy.com/jupiter/moons.htm
Explore Jupiter – BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/norfolk/kids/astronomy/astronomy_for_kids_feb04.shtml
Mars – Nine Planets

http://www.nineplanets.org/mars.html
Mars Exploration Program – NASA

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/
Mars – Astronomy.com

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/kids/
Solar System Kids – NASA Science for Kids

http://nasascience.nasa.gov/kids/kids-solar-system


Video



Mars Rover Video Simulation – Cornell University

http://athena.cornell.edu/the_mission/rov_video.html

Articles
“Looking for Life on Jupiter’s Icy Moon Europa” – University of California at Berkeley

http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2007/02/22_europa.shtml
“Is There Life On Jupiter's Moon Europa? Finding Signs Of Current Geological Activity On A Frozen World” – Science Daily

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080806210116.htm


Just For Kids



NASA Kid’s Club (games, slide shows, images) – NASA

http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forkids/kidsclub/flash/index.html
Planets and the Solar System (games, facts, short video clips) – NASA

http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/en/kids/cs_planets.shtml
The Solar System – Star Child / NASA

http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/solar_system_level1/solar_system.html
F9 Kids (interactive astronomy for kids)

http://kids.f9.net.uk/
Solar System Trading Card Game - Space Telescope Science Institute

http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/resources/explorations/trading/game.htm
Mars for Kids (games, activities) – NASA

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/funzone_flash.html
ESA Kids - European Space Agency

http://www.esa.int/esaKIDSen/index.html


Other



Our Solar Neighborhood (educator guide) – NASA

http://dln.nasa.gov/dln/content/catalog/details/?cid=54
Solar System (links, quiz, games, lesson plans, etc…) – Educational Technology Center / Kennesaw State University

http://edtech.kennesaw.edu/web/solar.html


Special thanks to the following scientists for their help with this project:
Pulse of the Planet Programs: #1834 “Astrobiology: Europa”

David Morrison

Senior Scientist

NASA Ames Research Institute
Pulse of the Planet: #1835 “Astrobiology: Extreme Environments”

Chris McKay

Research Scientist

NASA Ames Research Center
Pulse of the Planet: #2818 “Astrobiology: Europa”

Lynn Rothchild

Research Scientist

NASA Ames Research Center
Header Image

Name: Solar System 1

Credit: NASA




Copyright 2008 Jim Metzner Productions – All Rights Reserved


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