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Space Basics (lesson 1)
Pamela Galus
9-12    42 minutes; one class period



Lesson created on 10/27/1999 3:04:32 PM EST.
Last modified 11/29/1999 2:48:09 PM EST.


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Abstract  (help)


Students will develop background knowledge about planet and the solar system so that they will be able to comprehend basics of the space program as future voters and decision makers including a concept of diameter, space relations and magnitudes (distances from the sun). Students will use the internet to search for information and use that information to compose a written report which summarizes information they have located. Students will be placed in collaborative teams by interest to prepare an oral presentation on the planet they have selected. A summative assessment will present an usual question that requires students to process and apply their learning while thinking critically.

National Standards  (help)


Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications. Recognize and analyze explanations and models. The sun, the earth, and the rest of the solar system formed from a nebular cloud of dust and gas 4.6 billion years ago. The early earth was very different from the planet we live on today. The origin of the universe remains one of the greatest questions in science. The "big bang" theory places the origin between 10 and 20 billion years ago, when the universe began in a hot dense state; according to this theory, the universe has been expanding ever since. Early in the history of the universe, matter, primarily the light atoms hydrogen and helium, clumped together by gravitational attraction to form countless trillions of stars. Billions of galaxies, each of which is a gravitationally bound cluster of billions of stars, now form most of the visible mass in the universe. Stars produce energy from nuclear reactions, primarily the fusion of hydrogen to form helium. These and other processes in stars have led to the formation of all the other elements.

Pre-requisite Skills  (help)



Teacher Information  (help)


Sun has about 4.5 billion years to live closest star - 145 million km of the millions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, ours is an average, middle aged star contains 99.86% of the mass of the solar system core temp. of 16 million degrees, sustained by fusion rotates every 26.8 days PLANETS OF OUR SOLAR SYSTEM Mercury Named for Roman god of commerce and travel because of great speed Closest planet to the sun Weak gravity, no atmosphere Ancent surface covered with impact craters Spins slowly, moves around the sun quickly Venus Named for the goddess of beauty and love Nearest planet to Earth (twins?). High temps, 484 oC (900 oF) could melt lead. Covered by a thick cloud layer of sulfuric acid Atomosphere is carbon dioxide Complex, fractured surface, volcanos ect..... Morning and Evening Star. Rotation is opposite from the Earth. (Sun rises in the west and sets in the east.) Has many electrical storms Earth Not named for a mythological diety 70% of surface is covered with water Only planet that has life and flowing water. The boundaries of sea and land change constantly. Atmosphere mostly nitrogen (78%) Strong magnetic field, radiation belts of charged particles Mars Named for the Roman God of War. Red Planet Seasonal changes and polar caps of dry ice Volcanoes, canyons, dry river beds and channels. Largest volcano, Olympus Mons (3x as high as Mount Everest) Water may have flowed Thin atmosphere of carbon dioxide (fine dust makes the sky appear orange during the day and blue at sunset.) (Source of many hostile science fiction invaders) Jupiter Named for chief god of Roman mythology Largest planet Second brightest planet Larger and heavier than all of the other planets (Jupiter weighs twice as much as all the other planets combined !!). Small core of rock and the rest of planet is gas. Covered by thick clouds that form stripes Great Red Spot, a gigantic hurricane Atomosphere mostly hydrogen and helium 16 moons, the largest is Ganymede, also the largest moon in the solar system (may have water and life!). Powerful magnetic field, emits more energy than it receives from the sun. (core = 25,500 oC) Thin ring system, lightning in atomosphere, and aurorae. Saturn Named for the Roman god of Agriculture Famous for its rings (thousands) composed of ice and dust (not the only planet with rings) Appears yellow in color from Earth Second largest planet in our solar system Covered by clouds, strong winds (1,000 mph) Atomosphere mostly hydrogen and helium Magnetic field Also emits more energy than it receives. 22 moons, the largest is Titan. Light, will float on water Uranus Named for the Greek Sky god First planet to be discovered by telescope, 1781 Thin rings. 15 moons Atmosphere mostly hydrogen and helium, some ammonia, methane and water vapor. Pale blue planet, color caused by methane Below clouds, may have scalding oceans of scalding water and ammonia One year is 84 Earth years! Neptune Named for the Roman sea god Discovered mathematically Dim, greenish Made of rock, iron, ice and gases Great Dark Spot, Scooter (winds to 2,000 km per hr) Pluto Named for the Roman god of underworld Discovered in 1930 Coldest planet Maybe Neptune's moons that escaped Smallest (even smaller than our moon!) Each moon in the solar system continually faces its parent body. Awsome Alien Students should be provided with graph paper and the following planet diameters relative to Earth. Pluto - 1/6 Mercury - 1/3 Mars - 1/2 Venus - 1 Earth - 1 Neptune - 4 Unanus - 4 Saturn - 9 1/2 Jupiter - 11 Earth has been arbitrarily assigned the unit of '1' and all the other planetary diameters are set relative to Earth. Students should use the diamters to create a space alien on their graph paper using the relative diameters to help them develop a sense of how large large is. On this scale, the

Assessment  (help)


An informal assessment is all that is required so that the teacher can determine mastery of basic understandings. Students must understand the difference between sun, star, moon, planet and other related terms by the end of instruction.

Student Activity  (help)


Students will listen as information is presented, view models, discuss information and respond to questions.

Technology Requirements/Integration  (help)






Copyright 1997-2003
Career Connection to Teaching with Technology
USDOE Technology Innovation Challenge Grant
Marshall Ransom, Project Manager
All rights reserved.

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