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Planet Project (lesson 2)
Pamela Galus
    42 minutes/one class period

Lesson created on 10/27/1999 6:35:12 PM EST.
Last modified 2/24/2001 7:56:49 PM EST.

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Abstract  (help)

Students will become familiar with the physical properties of planets and be able to apply that learning.

National Standards  (help)

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)

Students should have been provided with some background information on the planets. Each student should have the skills necessary to use the internet which may require instruction to develop appropriate competencies.

Teacher Information  (help)

Unearthly Estates Internet research and oral presentations on planets are an excellent way to combine technology and science while having students reinforce learning for classmates. Rather than have students stand up and give a list of facts, I turn my students into real-estate agents selling not only their planet, but their ideas for planned entertainment for visitors. This assignment encourages both critical and creative thinking as students must determine ways to overcome Jupiter’s bone crushing gravity, Venus’ acid rain storms, Saturn’s tremendous wind, Pluto’s frigid temperatures or Mercury’s horrendously long days and high temperatures. While ‘ice’ skating might be a perfectly acceptable activity for visitors to Pluto, individuals visiting Mercury might be more interested in sun bathing or the long night life while Saturn’s tourists might be more interested in wind surfing. Planets should be assigned by interest and then students should be given class time to search for information available on the Internet. On-line encyclopedias are also a good source; unless students are providing history, their information should be current since locating old information can confuse them as human knowledge changes rapidly with regard to space exploration. Requiring that each students do their own write up and turn in printouts from the sites located assures individual accountability. After the initial information has been obtained, students should be placed in groups by interest to share their research. Good Internet sites are http:www.jpl.nasa.gov, http://photojournal.ipl.nasa.gov/, http://space.ipl.nasa.gov.. Once the groups have been assigned and information shared, students should begin creating an outline. Students MUST complete the outline before they are allowed to present. Students often do not realize how nervous they will become in front of a group - even if the group is peers. The outline assures that no student will resort to reading their research which is not a good sales approach. We present before the special education students which has proved to be an enjoyable experience for both groups of students and sometimes causes students to develop friendships that may not otherwise have occurred. My students enjoy this activity so much because of the audience, that they often ask to do more such assignments; the special education students always react positively and always have many very high quality questions which teaches students the value of quality research. Additionally, the audience aspect causes students to take the assignment more seriously; while they may not mind having their teacher see low quality work, their image is on the line when they stand before other students. As soon as their presentation is complete, students should be given their self evaluation form. Students tend to be very hard on themselves and the presentation generally went better than they think. At the end of every performance, the teachers lead the audience in a round of applause following the question/answer session. The assignment is complete when students turn in their self evaluation form. The teacher completes the instructor evaluation form during the performance. Prior to the performance, the teacher should check the outline and ask the students what their plan is and complete that section of the evaluation so that their plans can be monitored for feasibility and accuracy. Students should be given an amount of time (5 minutes or so) to plan for. The instructor should provide a model that is set in the front of the room and require that each student team point out their planet on the model and name the two planets their planet is between to constantly reinforce the order of the planets. Also, pictures of planets should be available so that the audience can visualize the area.

Assessment  (help)

Assessment Student Self Evaluation Form Name of Students: Your Name:______________________________________________ Partners Name:____________________________________________ Planet: __________________________________________________ Brief description of presentation: _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ Facts about Planet:__________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ Selling points: _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ Group Strength: _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ Group Weakness: _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ Self Evaluation (comments or suggestions to help YOU improve): ______________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ Instructor Evaluation of Team Performance: Name of Students in Team:___________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ Planet: ___________________________________________________ Brief description of plan presented: ____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ Facts presented: ____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ Selling points: ____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ Evaluation: Communication Skills 5 4 3 2 1 Organization 5 4 3 2 1 Articulation 5 4 3 2 1 Length of Presentation 5 4 3 2 1 Validity of Information 5 4 3 2 1 Creativity 5 4 3 2 1 Quality of response to questions 5 4 3 2 1 Total point earned on oral segment _________ (5=superior, 4= excellent, 3= good, 2= average, 1= unacceptable) Team Strength: _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ Areas for improvement: _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________

Student Activity  (help)

Below is a recommendation for the student assignment: Student Activity Directions: You and your partner are going into the interplanetary real-estate business. You will sell your planet to your audience of potential investors. Your goal therefore, is to get as many people as possible to put their phony money into your company. Why would anyone want to live there? What makes your planet superior to the others? You must be factual - extraterrestrials can be added only with the permission of the instructor. Cartoons and celebrity visitors can also only be added only with instructor permission and to receive permission you must have a very good reason for needing them. This is not a celebrity popularity contest, you are trying to sell your planet on its own merits. The two member team will plan a 5 minute presentation on your planet. You must give all the important information on your planet including: atmosphere, satellites, rings, weather, wind speeds, length of day and year, gas or rock planet, inner or outer, distance from the sun, any information unique to your planet that makes it interesting. You will need models and/or pictures as that will make your presentation more interesting; oral presentations tend to be boring without demonstrations, models and visuals. At the end of your oral presentation, you will answer questions from the potential investors and then you must turn in a three to five page written report on your planet and the typed outline you used for your presentation. Every single person must say something to the audience! That means, you must split up the presentation so that both you and your partner have speaking parts. Costumes are encouraged - funny hats, silly clothes, name tags will make you more interesting. If you are artistically inclined, make pictures of the surface, planned activities, or charts that show why your planets location is best. You must explain how you are going to get around certain conditions on your planet: How are you going to over come Jupiter's tremendous gravity or what are the travelers on Venus going to be doing during the sulfuric acid rain storms (don't build structures out of metal, the rain would dissolve it and you will all die!) What kind of suits will you have to wear to avoid the atmosphere problems. What will you do for entertainment? No one should stand up and give a list of facts - be corny, have fun and have visuals. Outline: This is required!!! You will NOT give a presentation without an outline in hand because it is likely that you will forget what you were going to say. The outline is required and must be typed using a word processor. We will follow the format listed below: 1. Tell them what you are going to tell them. Introduce yourselves and state your planet. Point out your planet on the model and point out the nearby planets. How many planets from the sun? 2. Tell them. Make certain you include the following elements in your presentation: What was your planet named for? How many planets from the sun are you? Is your planet rock or gas? Interesting and unique features of you planet's surface. Gravity problems? Atmospheric problems? Storms, wind speed? Clothing requirements? Sky color and information about rings and moons. How long is a day? A year? What are the temperature ranges? What kind of entertainment is planned. Make sure you include the things that make your planet unique. Make sure that you are guilty of over acting - be worse than Jim Carey. Make my stomach revolt at the silliness of the things you say! Think about your planet and make your activities unique to the planet. Think about how you will overcome obstacles such as incredebly thick atmosphere, incredible wind speeds or tremendous bone crushing gravity. 3. Tell them what you told them. No new information is given here. The audience should already know what they need to know; all you do here is summarize. You should restate why the a

Technology Requirements/Integration  (help)

Students will need access to computers with internet access and word processing capability. English teachers are often willing to work with the project to assist with outlines. Sometimes the English Department can use the write up as one of the required themes which increases the quality of the work. Student writers often write short poems to read at the end of their presentations. Math can easily be integrated by having students calculate the time it will take for travelors to reach their planet using current technology. Additionally, students might work as a team to determine the scale necessary to create a model of the solar system in the classroom. Philosophy can be integrated as we ask important questions about who owns the planets, who has a right to develop them and should they be developed at all. History of the space program and technology is also an integral part of the lesson. The art department is generally willing to assist students with the creation of visual aides and very talented students will want to show thier skills by creating artistic designs and vissions of their planet.

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