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Cooling Planets

Cooling Planets

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Short Description: In this activity, students take temperature readings from large and small containers of hot water, and graph the measurements to determine how volume affects cooling. They use this information to interpret the cooling histories of the different sizes of the inner, rocky planets of our inner solar system.

Topic: Evolving Worlds: Planets, Like People, Grow and Change Over Time

Grade Level: 5-8

Body: Earth, Mars, Earth's Moon

Mission: Earth Science Missions (Earth), InSight (Mars), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (Earth's Moon), MAVEN (Mars)

Science Education Standards:


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

Earth and Space Science -- Content Standard D

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.

Source: Lunar and Planetary Institute

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Last Updated: 1 Jul 2014