ALEX Lesson Plan

     

Scaling the Sun-Earth-Moon System

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Hannah Bradley
System: Dothan City
School: Carver Magnet School
The event this resource created for:ASTA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34496

Title:

Scaling the Sun-Earth-Moon System

Overview/Annotation:

Students will develop a scale model of the sun, Earth, and moon system based on a one-meter sun. Students will first interact with a technology-based scaled model and view a video clip on scaling the solar system. Students will then scale the diameter of the Earth and moon, as well as the distance from the Earth to the sun, and from the Earth to moon. Students will be required to utilize mathematical skills, such as division, rounding, and metric system conversions. After scaling the diameters and distances, students will create the scaled model. 

This lesson results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
Earth and Space Science
3 ) Develop and use models to determine scale properties of objects in the solar system (e.g., scale model representing sizes and distances of the sun, Earth, moon system based on a one-meter diameter sun).

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Developing and Using Models
Crosscutting Concepts: Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth's Place in the Universe
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Develop models to determine scale properties of objects in the solar system.
  • Use models to determine scale properties of objects in the solar system.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Model
  • Scale
  • Scale model
  • Properties
  • Size
  • Distance
  • Diameter
  • Solar system
  • Planet
  • Moon
  • Sun
  • Asteroid
  • Asteroid belt
  • Celestial body
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • A (scale) model is a representation or copy of an object that is larger or smaller than the actual size of the object being represented.
  • Measurements may be multiplied or divided to correctly scale objects in a model.
  • Charts and data tables may be analyzed to find patterns in data.
  • Patterns can be used to describe similarities and differences in objects in the solar system.
  • Systems and their properties may be described using more than one scale.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Develop a model of objects in the solar system and identify the relevant components.
  • Describe that different representations illustrate different characteristics of objects in the solar system, including differences in scale.
  • Use mathematics and computational thinking to determine scale properties.
  • Describe that two objects may be similar when viewed at one scale but may appear to be quite different when viewed at a different scale.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • The solar system consists of the sun and a collection of objects, including planets, their moons, and asteroids that are held in orbit around the sun by its gravitational pull on them.
  • Space phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Researching the Sun-Earth-Moon System
Exploring Planetary Systems

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.6.3- Use a model to compare the relative sizes of objects in the solar system (e.g., sun, Earth, moon).


Local/National Standards:

 

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will be able to develop a scale model to represent the diameters of the Earth, the moon, and the sun.

Students will be able to develop a scale model to represent the distances between the Earth and the sun, and the Earth and the moon.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will be able to use mathematical skills (division, rounding, and metric system conversion) to create a scale model of the sun, Earth, and moon system. 

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Student Materials

Pencil (for each student)

Calculator (for each student)

Metric ruler (for each student)

Protractor (for each student- if available)

Blue paper (one sheet per student)

Gray paper (one sheet per student)

Teacher Materials

One-meter sun model (could use a large beach ball, or make model from yellow paper)

Area at least 108 meters in diameter

Technology Resources Needed:

Student digital device-laptop/tablet (if available)

Teacher computer with internet capabilities

Interactive Board or projector

"Sizing Up the Universe"-Smithsonian Education Interactive Website

"A Scale Model of Our Solar System" Video Clip-7:06 Minutes

For Extension:

Enchanted Learning-The Planets: This website contains a data table with the diameter of each planet, as well as each planet's distance from the sun.

Background/Preparation:

Students should understand that the Earth is orbiting around the sun while the moon is orbiting around Earth. In addition, students should understand that the solar system is so vast, that we have to scale it down in order to understand the relationships between objects in our solar system. Students should be able to develop a scale model with teacher assistance, and be able to round to the nearest whole number and complete metric system conversions (millimeters to meters and centimeters). 

  Procedures/Activities: 

Before Strategy/Engage-15 minutes


1. If students have access to a digital device (laptop/tablet), they should visit the website Smithsonian Education "Sizing Up the Universe" Interactive . If students do not have access to a digital device, the teacher can display the interactive on the digital whiteboard. 

2. Instruct students to travel through steps 1-5 of this interactive. This will give students a beginning understanding the scaled sizes of the Earth, the moon, and the sun, as well as the diameter of each objects' orbit. 

3. Students will view "A Scale Model of Our Solar System". After students view the video, the teacher should ask the students, "Why did the men in the movie have to go all the way to a desert to create their scaled model of the solar system?"

Possible answer: The solar system is so big, they had to find a fairly large area to recreate their scaled model. 

4. Explain to students they will be creating their own model of the solar system, for now, just focusing on the sun, Earth, and the moon.

During Strategy/Explore & Explain-60 minutes


1. Students will need the "Scaling the Sun-Earth-Moon System" handout. 

2. The teacher will lead students through the first scale conversion (sun's diameter). (See "Scaling the Sun-Earth-Moon System" Handout for detailed directions for steps #2-4). 

3. The teacher will demonstrate the second scale conversion (Earth's diameter). Students will complete the problem on their handout. 

4. Students will complete the third scale conversion independently or with a partner. The teacher will informally assess students as they are working to ensure they are understanding the scale conversion.

5. The teacher will lead students in the scale conversion for the distance from the Earth to the sun. (See back of "Scaling the Sun-Earth-Moon System" handout for steps #5 and #6.)

6. Students will complete scale conversion for the distance from the Earth to the moon independently or with a partner. The teacher will informally assess students as they are working to ensure they are understanding the scale conversion.

7. The students will use a ruler and/or protractor to measure a circle that is 2 millimeters in diameter on the gray paper (if no gray paper is available, students may use white paper and color it gray). Students should label this object "moon".

8. The students will use a ruler and/or protractor to measure a circle that is 9 millimeters in diameter on the blue paper (if no blue paper is available, students may use white paper and color it blue). Students should label this object "Earth".

Note: Students could partner for steps #7 and #8, with one student representing the moon and one student representing the Earth.

9. The teacher will take the class to an area that is at least 108 meters in diameter. The teacher will represent the sun by standing in the middle of the area with the sun model (beach ball one meter in diameter or paper model). 

10. Students will begin at the sun (teacher), and walk 108 meters outward. Students can measure exactly with a meter stick, or they can estimate the measurement with 108 large steps or 216 small steps. Students will place their "Earth" model on the ground. 

11. Students will use a ruler to measure 28 centimeters away from their "Earth" and place their "moon" in that location.

Note: If students are working in partners, one partner can hold the "Earth", while the other student measures and holds the "moon" 28 centimeters away.

12. Ask students to look towards the sun and at their "Earth" and "moon" models. If students have the capability to take a picture with a digital device, they could take a picture of the sun mode from their vantage point of "Earth". 

After Strategy/Explain & Extend-20 minutes

1. Students will complete reflection questions on the model. This will include a sketch of the model, as well as questions to check for student understanding of the concept. (See "Scaling the Sun-Earth-Moon System Reflection" handout.)



Attachments:
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  Assessment  

Assessment Strategies

The teacher will informally assess students as they complete the math problems required by the scale factor.

The teacher will informally assess students as they use their scaled models of the Earth and moon to create a model of the entire sun, Earth, and moon system.

The students will be formally assessed by completing the "Scaling the Sun, Earth, and Moon Reflection" handout. The teacher can count this assessment as a course grade, or use this reflection handout to facilitate a class discussion on the model.

Acceleration:

Students who can easily create the scaled models of the sun, the Earth and the moon can use the same scale factor to create models of the other planets in our solar system. Students can also use the same scale factor to calculate each planet's distance from the sun, and add their models to the class model of the sun, Earth, and moon system.

The following website contains a data table with the diameter of each planet, as well as each planet's distance from the sun:

Enchanted Learning-The Planets

Note: Be sure to remind students to use the measurement in kilometers (not miles)!

Intervention:

Students who struggle with the mathematical portion of this lesson could be partnered with a student who excels in math, in order to provide support during that portion of the lesson. The teacher should also provide support to these students during that portion of the lesson to ensure the students are using the correct measurements for the model. If the mathematical skills required for this lesson would prevent the student from creating the scale model, the teacher could complete the math problems prior to the lesson, so that the student could focus on creating the actual model.


View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.