Beacon Lesson Plan Library
Our Solar System: Its Planets and Their Satellites
DescriptionUsing different sets of Styrofoam balls, students create a replica of our solar system.
ObjectivesThe student knows how the characteristics of other planets and satellites are similar to and different from those of the Earth.
Materials-Fifteen large yellow Styrofoam balls
-Sixty small black Styrofoam balls
-Sixty large blue Styrofoam balls
-Fifteen small white Styrofoam balls
-Glue (Elmer’s or any other type will do)
-15 pieces of construction paper
-Activity sheet for each student (approximately 40 per class - see Associated File)
-Pre & Post Test for each student (approximately 40 per class - see Associated File)
Preparations1. Obtain small Styrofoam balls (to be painted black).
2. Obtain medium Styrofoam balls (to be painted blue).
3. Obtain large Styrofoam balls (to be painted yellow).
4. Obtain small Styrofoam balls (to be left unpainted).
5. Obtain 15 sheets of construction paper.
6. Obtain 15 containers of some type of glue (or adhesive).
7. Research and know the order of the planets and how many satellites each has.
8. Download the pre & post test activity sheet from the Associated File and make one copy per student.
Procedures1. Ask students how many planets are in our solar system. List responses on board. Ask students how many of these planets have natural satellites orbiting them. List responses on board. Ask students how many of these planets are capable of supporting life as we know it. List responses on board. (Be sure to include in the discussion how the characteristics of these planets and satellites are similar to and different from those of the Earth.)
2. The objective of this exercise is to order the planets, identify the number of natural satellites that orbit each planet, and identify any life forms found on them.
3. Present knowledge that our solar system is currently expanding and some minor changes have been made in the last 10 years.
4. Next, one student from each group should go to the front of the room and obtain the materials required for the exercise.
5. Have each group arrange the balls in the proper order for our solar system by gluing them to the construction paper. Under each of the balls, the name of the object should be clearly printed. On the top of each ball, the number of natural satellites should be neatly written.
6. Each student will then complete the activity sheet provided by the teacher (see Associated File).
7. Next, the teacher will provide the proper information for the completed sheet.
8. The students, to study for the posttest which will be given the next class period, will use these activity sheets to study at home.
9. At the end of the exercise and the project, collect papers showing the proper order of the planets, their names, the number of moons, and any life forms found there. The proper display should be presented to the class. Remind students the activity sheet, which has been completed by each student, is to be taken home and studied for the posttest next class period.
AssessmentsComplete the pretest at the beginning of the lesson, and give the posttest at the end of the lesson (see Associated File). During the lesson, circulate and formatively assess students in cooperative groups for: being on task, helping each other, working as a team, and successfully creating the model.
ExtensionsIf the students have not mastered the concept of the ordering/sizing of planets, each student is to pick a planet and write a report about it. In the report should be the planet's position, composition (physical makeup), number of satellites, and any notable/unusual characteristics peculiar to that planet. To assist in writing the report the student should go to: http://www.windows.ucar.edu/
Web LinksWeb supplement for Our Solar System: Its Planets and Their Satellites
Windows to the Universe
Attached FilesThe pre/post test, activity sheet and answer key. File Extension: pdf
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