Solar System Field Trip
Image downloaded from Arnett’s website (1994-2008).
Introduction: Most third grade students know the names of the planets in the solar system. Students can visit websites to see pictures of the planets, compare facts about the planets, and explore models that will help them visualize the relative distance of the planets from the sun. Several websites offer help in creating models of the solar system.
Task: State of
GLE 0307.6.1 Identify and compare the major components of the solar system.
307.6.1 Create a model of the solar system depicting the major components and their relative positions and sizes.
307.6.2 Use a table to compare and contrast the major solar system components.
SPI 0307.6.1 Identify the major components of the solar system, i.e., sun, planets and moons.
Identify the major components of the solar system, compare and contrast the planets, and construct a model of the solar system.
A & E Television Network. (1996-2007). Interactive tour of the universe. Retrieved March 23, from http://www.history.com/genericContent.do?id=54499
A & E Television Network. (1996-2007). Backyard astronomer: Viewing the planets. Retrieved March 23, from http://www.history.com/video.do?name=The_Universe
Arnett, B. (1994-2008). The nine planets, a multimedia tour of the solar system: One star, eight planets, and more. Retrieved March 23, 2008, from http://www.nineplanets.org/
Dejoie, J., & Truelove, E. (n.d.). The solar system. Retrieved March 23, 2008, from http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/solar_system_level1/solar_system.html
Hipschman, R. (1997). Build a solar system. Retrieved March 23, 2008, from http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/solar_system/
Ottewell, G. (1989). The thousand-yard model or the Earth as a peppercorn. Retrieved March 23, 2008, from http://www.noao.edu/education/peppercorn/pcmain.html
Sheppard, S. (n.d.). The Jupiter satellite page. Retrieved April 1, 2008, from http://www.dtm.ciw.edu/sheppard/satellites/
Shetline, K. (2000-2007). Sky view café. Retrieved March 23, 2008, from http://www.skyviewcafe.com/
Take an Interactive Tour of the Universe. Go to History.com at http://www.history.com/genericContent.do?id=54499.
Go to http://www.nineplanets.org/sol.html to find information about the planets. Fill in the charts available at the link below. Use the astronomical unit (AU) for the distance from the sun. Go to http://www.dtm.ciw.edu/sheppard/satellites/ for a summary of the planets’ satellites. Use all the websites to find interesting facts about each planet to include on fact cards for your solar system model.
Click for the information charts.
Click on a square below to go directly to a planet or the sun.
After you have gathered information about the planets, explore the websites listed below to look at different models of the solar system. Consider your resources and space limitations. Then construct a model that shows the relative sizes of the planets and their distances from the sun. Make a fact card for each planet using information you have gathered from your solar system field trip. Put a picture of the planet on each fact card. Include at least three interesting facts about the planet.
Build a Solar System
Solar System Walk
Thousand Yard Model
The purpose of this WebQuest is to give students an opportunity to compare and contrast the planets by looking at NASA photographs and by collecting details about each planet. They should get a better idea of how the planets relate to each other in terms of relative size and distance from the sun. They can create a solar system model to share with other members of the school community.
Preceding the WebQuest, the teacher may divide the students into groups, with each group choosing a planet to research. If students don’t have much background knowledge about the planets, they might preview the websites to make a decision about which planet to research. Then, the information chart can be used by all the groups to gather information for the whole class. Each group will be responsible for making a planet information card for the class solar system model. The class can research types of solar system models and make decisions about which model would work best for the classroom or school. This might lead to the students creating a more permanent solar system model on the school grounds or in a school hallway.
The Backyard Astronomer: Viewing the Planets video at http://www.history.com/video.do?name=The_Universe is difficult to access, at times, so I removed it from the process area to cut down on student frustration. The video shows artists’ impressions of various gods and a goddess from which planet names were taken. It is a good introduction to a unit on the planets, but might be easier for the teacher to show to the whole class rather that having students try to access it. However, the video may not expand to full screen, so that could make it more difficult to show to a large group. The other websites are easy to access from the links.
The Nine Planets website seems challenging, in terms of the amount of text for third graders, but students love the photographs of the planets, and the basic information is easy to locate. I added links to the planets to make it easier for third graders to go straight to each planet. I included Pluto as a dwarf planet on the information chart because I don’t think students are ready to forget about it. Arnett gives a good explanation about why nine planets have become eight. Refer to the copyright information concerning student use of his text and NASA’s images at http://www.nineplanets.org/copyright.html. The Nine Planets website includes excerpts of music from Gustav Holst’s The Planets op. 32. Students might enjoy listening to the entire movement matching each planet to see if they agree with Holst’s musical view of the planets.
Students can use the StarChild website for additional activities related to the planets. Interested students can use Sky View Café, an interactive planetarium, to locate objects in the night sky.
This WebQuest should improve learning because it links students with NASA resources, such as photographs, that give students visual images to connect to facts about each planet. The solar system models are designed to give students a better understanding of the size of the solar system. Students may start out by designing a simple model of the solar system, or they may decide to make a more permanent model that can be enjoyed by the school community.
Click for the information answer charts.
Students have a natural fascination with the planets, and these websites give students an opportunity to see the same images that scientists at NASA see as space exploration provides views of the solar system. Students gather information and create a model to expand their understanding of the universe.
This WebQuest was created by Mary Swingle.
It was last updated on April 17, 2008.