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Short Description: This activity introduces students to planetary research. Using some of the most famous and interesting images of the solar system, students learn to focus on details by studying uncaptioned images. Next students increase their knowledge of the planets and their features by comparing their observations to those of real researchers. Students organize their findings to infer a key difference between inner and outer planets.
Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree
Grade Level: 5-8
Our Solar System,
Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud,
Dawn (Dwarf Planets),
Voyager 1 (Our Solar System),
Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)
Science Education Standards: Benchmarks
By the end of 8th grade, students should know that: Nine planets of very different size, composition, and surface features move around the Sun in nearly circular orbits. Some planets have a variety of moons and even flat rings of rock and ice particles orbiting around them. Some of these planets and moons show evidence of geologic activity. The Earth is orbited by one moon, many artificial satellites, and debris. 4A/M3
National Science Education Standards
Grades 5-8: EARTH IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM:
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.
Source: Lunar and Planetary Institute