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Solar System Exploration
YSS March 2012 Science Education Standards

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By the end of the 2nd grade, students should know that:

  • The sun can be seen only in the daytime, but the Moon can be seen sometimes at night and sometimes during the day. The sun, Moon and stars all appear to move slowly across the sky. 4A/P2
  • The sun warms the land, air and water. 4E/P1

By the end of the 5th grade, students should know that:

  • Stars are like the sun, some being smaller and some larger, but so far away that they look like points of light. 4A/E5
  • The rotation of the Earth on its axis every 24 hours produces the night-and-day cycle. To people on Earth, this turning of the planet makes it seem as though the sun, Moon, planets, and stars are orbiting the Earth once a day. 4B/E2bc

By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that:

  • The sun is many thousands of times closer to the Earth than any other star. Light from the sun takes a few minutes to reach the Earth, but light from the next nearest star takes a few years to arrive. The trip to that star would take the fastest rocket thousands of years. 4A/M2abc

By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that:

  • Because the Earth turns daily on an axis that is tilted relative to the plane of the Earth's yearly orbit around the sun, sunlight falls more intensely on different parts of the Earth during the year. The difference in intensity of sunlight and the resulting warming of the Earth's surface produces the seasonal variations in temperature. 4B/H3** (BSL)

National Science Education Standards

Science and Technology -- Content Standard D

Grades K-4

  • The sun, Moon, stars, clouds, birds, and airplanes all have properties, locations, and movements that can be observed and described.
  • The sun provides the light and heat necessary to maintain the temperature of the Earth.


  • Objects in the sky have patterns of movement. The sun, for example, appears to move across the sky in the same way every day, but its path changes slowly over the seasons. The Moon moves across the sky on a daily basis much like the sun.

Grades 5-8

  • The Earth is the third planet from the sun in a system that includes the Moon, the sun, eight other planets and their Moons, and smaller objects, such as asteroids and comets. The sun, an average star, is the central and largest body in the solar system.
  • Most objects in the solar system are in regular and predictable motion. Those motions explain such phenomena as the day, the year, phases of the Moon, and eclipses.
  • The sun is the major source of energy for phenomena on the Earth's surface, such as growth of plants, winds, ocean currents, and the water cycle. Seasons result from variations in the amount of the sun's energy hitting the surface, due to the tilt of the Earth's rotation on its axis and the length of the day.

Grades 9-12

  • Heating of Earth's surface and atmosphere by the sun drives convection within the atmosphere and oceans, producing winds and ocean currents.

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Last Updated: 22 May 2012