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Short Description: Students work in groups or as a class to determine the order of events that formed our solar system. This is an excellent activity to begin discussion of events that shaped the solar system and how Earth's geosphere and biosphere have changed -- in an interrelated manner -- through time.

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

Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12

Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon

Mission: ARTEMIS (Earth's Moon), Cassini (Saturn), Dawn (Dwarf Planets), Galileo (Jupiter), Hubble Space Telescope (Beyond Our Solar System), InSight (Mars), Juno (Jupiter), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Exploration Rover: Opportunity (Mars), Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity (Mars), MAVEN (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), Viking 1 (Mars), Viking 2 (Mars), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System), WISE (NEOWISE) (Our Solar System)

Science Education Standards:

Benchmarks

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

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

  • As the Earth and other planets formed, the heavier elements fell to their centers. On planets close to the sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars), the lightest elements were mostly blown or boiled away by radiation from the newly formed sun; on the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) the lighter elements still surround them as deep atmospheres of gas or as frozen solid layers. 4A/H5** (SFAA)

National Science Education Standards

Earth and Space Science -- Content Standard D

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.

Grades 9-12
ENERGY IN THE EARTH SYSTEM

  • Earth systems have internal and external sources of energy, both of which create heat. The sun is the major external source of energy. Two primary sources of internal energy are the decay of radioactive isotopes and the gravitational energy from the Earth's original formation.
  • The outward transfer of Earth's internal heat drives convection circulation in the mantle that propels the plates comprising Earth's surface across the face of the globe.

THE ORIGIN AND EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH SYSTEM

  • Interactions among the solid earth, the oceans, the atmosphere, and organisms have resulted in the ongoing evolution of the Earth system. We can observe some changes such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on a human time scale, but many processes such as mountain building and plate movements take place over hundreds of millions of years.

Source: Lunar and Planetary Institute


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Last Updated: 1 Jul 2014