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Visit Our Solar System

Students will learn about the planets as they create a sample travel journal that explains what it would be like to visit one of the planets.

Apps: Frames, Pixie®, Wixie®, or Share™

Visit Our Solar System

Task

Space Tours Unlimited would like to begin offering tours to the planets. They have trained astronauts who can take people on tours of a planet aboard the Cosmos2020, the most advanced shuttle to ever launch into space. To generate business, they have asked your class to help them create an interactive presentation that will help new customers choose which planet they want to visit.

Engage

Complete a KWL chart with your students to activate their prior knowledge about the planets. You might want to read various books or plays about space, such as The Magic School Bus Visits the Solar System, to get students interested in the topic. Show your students different images of planets (you can find planet images in Pics4Learning). Discuss basic facts about each one.

Tell the students that they have been chosen to create an interactive brochure for a visit to one of the planets. On this space tour, the students will have to answer the following questions about their planet:

  1. What is the planet’s distance from the sun?
  2. What is the diameter of the planet?
  3. Does the planet have any moons? If so, name them.
  4. What is the atmosphere like on this planet?
  5. Are there any unusual features about this planet?

Have students use library books and online resources to find answers to these questions. There are several online resources listed in the Resources area.

Create

Once the students have completed the Planet Worksheet, they are ready to begin creating their Planetary Tour as seen through the eyes of the first tourists in space. Students will present their tour and describe the things that tourists would see during a visit to this planet. Students can use their research to help them choose information for their project and a storyboard to help them organize their ideas.

Find related images at pics4learning.com.

Share

Have students present their planetary tour to the rest of the class or at a school assembly. This will help everyone learn more about the planets. You may even want to have students vote for their favorite tour.

You could also turn this into a community event by making it a travel trade show. Have each student share their tour at a planet station. Audience members can watch each tour to get an idea of which planet they would like to visit. You could also issue tickets for each tour so students and community members can choose which planet they would like to visit.

Assessment

Assess your students’ prior knowledge about the solar system as you work together to complete a KWL chart. You could ask them what they know about each planet, the sun, and the moon individually to elicit more detail. Their answers will give you insight into their current comprehension. For example, a student might share that Mercury is very hot. You might respond with a question asking what they know about the temperature on Neptune. This will help lead into understanding that the distance from the sun is a factor influencing the environment on each planet.

Student answers to research questions about the planets can give you insight into comprehension, but may also simply be an indication of a student’s ability to conduct online and print research. Engaging students in discussion about the information they have found will help you catch misconceptions and better assess understanding before project work begins.

Create your own rubric for free at rubric-maker.com

Engage students by asking lots of questions as they are working on their itinerary and tour. You can assess their Frames, Pixie, Wixie, or Share projects for accuracy of facts and their comprehension of what impact distance from the sun, atmosphere, and other planetary features would have on the humans visiting the planet.

Resources

Cole, Joanne and Degan, Bruce. (1992) Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System. Scholastic. ISBN: 0590414291

Mitton, Jacqueline. (1991) Discovering the Planets. Troll Communications. ISBN: 0816721319

Simon, Seymour. (2002) Destination Space. Harper Collins. ISBN: 0688162908

Nasa-Welcome to the Planets

Standards

NSTA-National Science Education Content Standards

Content Standard D:

As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop an understanding of:

Common Core Anchor Standards for English Language Arts - Grade 4-5

Writing Standards

Text Types and Purposes

3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing

4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others

Research to Build and Present Knowledge

7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

NETS 3-5 Performance Standards:

1. Use keyboards and other common input and output devices (including adaptive devices when necessary) efficiently and effectively. (1)

4. Use general purpose productivity tools and peripherals to support personal productivity, remediate skill deficits, and facilitate learning throughout the curriculum. (3)

5. Use technology tools (e.g., multimedia authoring, presentation, Web tools, digital cameras, scanners) for individual and collaborative writing, communication, and publishing activities to create knowledge products for audiences inside and outside the classroom. (3, 4)

NETS 6-8 Performance Standards:

5. Apply productivity/multimedia tools and peripherals to support personal productivity, group collaboration, and learning throughout the curriculum.

6. Design, develop, publish and present products using technology resources that demonstrate and communicate curriculum concepts to audiences inside and outside the classroom.

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Integrate Technology into Elementary Science

Ideas for engaging elementary students in science as they explore the curriculum through creative projects.

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  • Articles and Project Ideas
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