ALEX Lesson Plan

     

Rollin' Through the Solar System: Creating a Scaled Model

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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: 34743

Title:

Rollin' Through the Solar System: Creating a Scaled Model

Overview/Annotation:

First, students will view an engaging video about the recent arrival of the New Horizons spacecraft at Pluto. Students will create a sketch of the solar system to show their current understanding of the relative sizes and distances of the objects in our solar system. Students will then scale the diameters of the Sun, eight main planets, and Pluto, as well as the planets' distances from the sun. Students will be required to utilize mathematical skills, such as division, rounding, and metric system conversions. After scaling the diameters and orbits of the objects in our solar system, students will create a scaled model of the solar system using a roll of toilet paper.

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 develop a scale model to represent the diameters of the sun, eight main planets, and Pluto.

Students will develop a scale model to represent the distances between the objects in our solar system.

Students will use the model they create to describe the relative diameters and orbits of the objects in our solar system.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will use mathematical skills (division, rounding, and metric system conversion) to create a scale model of the solar system.

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Pencil

Notebook paper

Calculator

Metric ruler

Meter stick

Roll of toilet paper (one per student or group)

Markers

Technology Resources Needed:

Teacher computer with internet capabilities

Interactive board or projector

"Pluto in a Minute: How Did New Horizons Phone Home?" NASA Video Clip (1:46 minutes)

Build a Solar System (planets only) Website for scale factor

Build a Solar System (additional celestial bodies) Website for extension activity

Background/Preparation:

Students should have a basic understanding of the objects included in our solar system. In addition, students should understand that the solar system is so vast, 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, be able to round numbers to a specific place value, and complete metric system conversions (millimeters to meters). 

  Procedures/Activities: 

Before Strategy/Engage: (20 minutes)

  1. Students will view the video clip "Pluto in a Minute: How Did New Horizons Phone Home?". As students view the video, ask them to write the answers to these questions: How did New Horizons send messages to Earth? How long did it take these messages to reach Earth?
    Answers: Pluto sent messages to Earth using radio waves, which travel at the speed of light. It took 4 hours and 25 minutes for messages from New Horizons to reach Earth.
  2. After viewing the video clip, ask students the following question and lead a discussion on the possible answers: Why did it take New Horizons almost four and half hours to send messages to Earth, even though its messages were traveling at the speed of light?
    Possible Answer: Because Pluto is so far away (32 astronomical units/7.5 billion kilometers/4.67 billion miles), it takes a very long time for radio waves to reach it, even though they are moving at the speed of light. 
  3. Ask students to sketch an illustration of the solar system. Students should include the names of the planets, the relative sizes of the planets and the sun, and the distances of the planets from each other. Students should keep this sketch to refer to for the assessment portion of this lesson.
    Note: Most students will know the outer planets are larger than the inner planets. However, most students will have the misconception that the planets are evenly spaced within the solar system.
  4. After discussing student drawings, explain to students they will be creating a scaled model of our solar system using a roll of toilet paper. 

During Strategy/Explore & Explain: (80 minutes)

  1. Students will need the "Rollin' Through the Solar System" Student Sheet handout.
  2. The teacher will lead students through the first scale conversion (sun's diameter). (See "Rollin' Through the Solar System" handout for detailed instructions.)
    Note: Instead of personally calculating the scale factor for each planet's diameter and orbit, students can use the Build a Solar System (planets only) website. Students will type in 10 for the body diameter of the sun (in mm), and the website will calculate the scaled measurements.
  3. The teacher will demonstrate the second scale conversion (Mercury's diameter and distance from the sun). Students will complete the problem on their handout.
  4. Students will complete the third scale conversion (Venus's diameter and distance from the sun) independently or with a partner. The teacher will informally assess students as they are working to ensure they are understanding the scale conversion. Students will complete the table provided on the "Rollin' Through the Solar System" Student Sheet.
    Note: If students are personally calculating the scale factor for their model, this step would be a good stopping point. Students can create their scaled model the next class period.
  5. Before students begin to create their model solar system, the teacher should check to ensure all students have the correct measurements for the scaled model. This can be done individually or as a whole class. (See "Rollin' Through the Solar System Answer Key" for correct answers.)
  6. Students will now begin to create their scaled model of the solar system on their roll of toilet paper. Students may work individually on their scale model or work in collaborative learning groups. (See "Rollin' Through the Solar System" Student Sheet for detailed instructions.)
  7. After students draw Mercury on their scaled model, they will refer to the table on their handout. They will see Venus should be 0.36 meters away from Mercury on their scaled model. They will use a ruler or meter stick to measure this distance on their roll of toilet paper. Students will measure a line that is approximately 0.1 mm and label it Venus. Students will continue to measure the scaled diameters and distances in this fashion to complete their scaled model of the solar system.
    Note: The student sheet instructs students to put only a tiny dot to represent Mercury. They will need to follow this same procedure for Mars and Pluto. Be sure students understand this is due to the scale factor. In order to fit the entire solar system on the roll of toilet paper, the sizes and distances had to be scaled down so much, these relatively small planets can barely be seen from this scale.

After Strategy/Explain & Extend:(20 minutes)

  1. Students will answer reflection questions about this activity. This will include a sketch of the model, as well as questions to check for student understanding of the concept. (See "Rollin' Through the Solar System Reflection" Student Sheet 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 the scaled diameters and distances of the objects in the solar system to create their scaled model on toilet paper.

The students will be formally assessed by completing the "Rollin' Through the Solar System Reflection Questions" 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 meet the Primary Learning Objective can add additional objects to their scaled model, such as planetary satellites.

The following website contains information about the diameters and orbits of various planetary satellites: Build a Solar System (all celestial bodies).

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 student can use the following website to compute the scale factor: Build a Solar System (planets only).


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.