Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Space: The Final Frontier

Cynthia Lott
Colleges and Universities - Florida


Students use electronic technology to find information on the solar system and then construct a graph to explain the information. They also demonstrate a solar or lunar eclipse by providing a written explanation with an illustration of the planet chosen.


The student uses electronic technology appropriate to writing tasks (including but not limited to the Internet, databases and software) to create, revise, retrieve, and verify information.

The student constructs, interprets, and explains displays of data, such as tables and graphs (single- and multiple-bar graphs and single- and multiple- line graphs).

The student understands the positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun during a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse.

Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.


-Computers with Internet access to NASA Websites (See Weblinks)
-Planet Data Collection Sheet, one per student (See Associated File)
-Assessment Sheet, one per student (See Associated File)
-Crayons, markers, colored pencils
-Books describing and detailing the solar system and the planets, using the given vocabulary
-Graph paper
-Diagram of planets' orbits
-One can of tennis balls labeled Sun, Moon and Planet


1. Establish an area to be used as stations. If classroom setup allows, create areas that are grouped into stations. If space is limited or stations are not feasible, locate materials in an area as to allow all students access to all items.
2. Collect books and other materials. Please note, you may locate books at the local library as well as your school's library or from a local planetarium. Please note your school and/or school district may require permission for the use of outside materials. Please check on what the policy is regarding the use of outside materials.
3. Bookmark the computer links for the Websites. (See Weblinks) Work through the Websites since the needed information is set up differently on each site. Become familiar with the sites.
4. Become familiar with solar and lunar eclipses and the process for each. This information can be located on all of the Websites listed.
5. Equip each station with the needed materials: books, computers on and logged onto Website, graph paper and other art supplies, tennis balls and flashlight. (Note: Be sure to label one tennis ball Sun, one Moon and one Planet.)


1. How many of you have ever wanted to travel into space? How would you like to look at the known planets in our solar system and expLore what makes solar and lunar eclipses?

2. Tell the class they will be covering the 9 known planets of our solar system. (Be sure all nine planets are covered when group work starts as to not create a gap in the information.)

3. Note vocabulary to be used and review definitions as follows:
Solar System - the sun together with the 9 planets and all other objects in the sky that orbit the sun.
Revolution - an orbital motion around the sun.
Orbit - the path an object has when circling another object.
Solar Eclipse - when the moon is between the sun and the earth.
Lunar Eclipse - when the earth is between the moon and the sun.

4. Set up four learning stations for student rotation:
Computer Station #1, Books Station #2, Illustration Station #3, and the hands-on Model Station #4. Each station will provide information for the completion of this activity. Note: If space is a problem, create an area where all students can access the materials needed.

5. Discuss with students the use of each center as follows:
a. Use the Computer Station to locate the information needed to answer the questions on the Planet Data Collection Sheet. (See Associated File)
b. Use the Book Station to locate information for the Planet Data Collection Sheet and answer the questions.
c. Use the Illustration Station to complete graphs and create illustrations.
d. The Model Station will be used to show students how an eclipse occurs.
Note: Have computers logged onto the Website prior to sending students to work on the Internet.

6. Establish working groups. This is to be done at the teacher's discretion based on the number of students and the resources available.

7. Allow students to choose a planet they would like to explore. This can be done as a working group or individually based on class size and time. If you believe that all the planets will not be chosen, assign planets to students and/or the groups. Note: This may cause some planets to be used more than once.

8. Using the tennis balls and flashlight, demonstrate what happens when solar and lunar eclipses occur.

9. Ask students why they think these two things are different, what makes them happen and why.

10. Review student responses and provide the opportunity for investigation of their predictions and hypotheses through the station information.

11. Place groups into rotation. This is to be decided by the teacher based on the number students, computers and other materials available. Students must have gathered information prior to reaching the graphing station.

12. Once students have recorded the needed information on their Planet Data Collection Sheet, have them move to the graphing station. Here students use the information gathered to create their graph using one of the following: distance, size, or number of moons. Students need to use their rulers here to establish their marks for the graph. In choosing one of these descriptions, students need to apply the description factor to three different planets of their choice. Students also need to share information about their planets with one another in order to complete this section based on the description factor they selected.

13. On the opposite side of the graph, have students illustrate their lunar or solar eclipse and respond to the following scenario: "You are a scientist asked to explain to a group of students how a solar or lunar eclipse occurs. Think about what happens during an eclipse. Now explain in writing what happens when a solar or lunar eclipse occurs."

14. After all groups have completed the station rotations, have students share what they have discovered. This can be done whole-group or in their individual groups.


Assess this lesson by using the Assessment Sheet located in the associated file. Assess for the following:

1. Three bodies--moon, planet, sun--are in the illustration of a solar or lunar eclipse.
2. A written explanation is provided of why it is a solar or lunar eclipse, denoting the correct order for the sun, moon and planet.
3. A graph (on graph paper) shows one of the following: distance, size or moons. Students graph three of the planets of the their choice according to item chosen. (See Sample Setups for Graphs in Associated File)

Circulate and formatively assess students as they use the technology tools. Provide assistance for students who are experiencing difficulty and monitor accordingly.


For ESOL students, provide information in the student’s home language, use a buddy system to cover material, and/or provide information in picture form.

Web Links

This site is a portal to many resources for learning about the planets and outer space.
A View of Outer Space from Your Window

This NASA site has facts, videos, pictures, and activities.
Space Place

There are several sections to this site, all of which are appropriate for kids of all ages.
Astronomy for Kids

This site describes the technology standards for students that are addressed in this lesson.
ISTE Standards, Students

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