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Please Ex-Planet!

Summary:
This activity lets students research a particular planet/moon and then share their findings with the rest of the students in their class. Materials:
  • Computers and Internet access so students can use Windows to the Universe web site
  • Art supplies needed if students are coloring or creating a model of their planet/moon

Worksheets:

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Source:
Adapted activity from Hank Thoenes of Troy, Michigan, public schools
Grade level:
6-12
Time:
Very little teacher prep time, class time approximately 4 class periods
Student Learning Outcomes:
  • Students will become experts on one given solar system body.
  • Students will be exposed to information about other solar system bodies.
  • Students will learn to work better in groups or with partners.
Lesson format:
Research & Writing Exercise

National Standards Addressed:

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place students in groups of 2-3. Assign each group one of the nine planets (or a large moon in the solar system if you have a large class). It would be best if all 9 planets were covered by the groups (even if there isn't as much info on some as others). It is suggested that only larger moons be used because students will be able to find information on these much more easily. Suggestions are Titan (Saturn), Triton (Neptune) or Io, Europa, Ganymede, or Callisto (Jupiter).
  2. Have students use the student recording worksheet to research and record information about their respective planets. Students should use the Internet (Windows to the Universe web site) and possibly the library to find information.
  3. If there is time, have students create a visual aid for their planet.
  4. Have each group present their findings (and possible visual aid) to the class.

ASSESSMENT:

Assessment is class dependent. Teacher should decide how much the student worksheet, student participation in group, presentation and possible visual aid are worth.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Suggested projects for visual aids could include having students draw a picture or make a model of the planet using as much detail as possible. Students should include any special features, accurate color and label any parts of the planet as needed. You could also have students make a sketch, model, costume or skit about an imaginary creature that may live on their planet. The creature's features should show how it has adapted to the conditions present on the planet. The students could describe its food sources, form of locomotion, and daily life. Remind your students that creativity and neatness count.

Suggested timing for this activity is as follows:
Day 1: Group students, have students start research on their planet
Day 2: Have students finish research and start their visual aid
Day 3: Have students finish their visual aid and plan their presentation
Day 4: Have each group give short presentation
Obviously, if you have a very large or very small class (or a very short class period), this will need to be adapted.

RELATED SECTIONS OF THE WINDOWS TO THE UNIVERSE WEBSITE:

OTHER RESOURCES:

Students should use these sites to research the possibility of life on other planets or moons:

Last modified January 4, 2006 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF