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Solar System Exploration
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Cake Batter Lava
Topic: Volcanism in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Students use cake batter to understand how different lavas flow and the structures that are created.

Cosmic Chemistry: Planetary Diversity
Topic: Evolving Worlds: Planets, Like People, Grow and Change Over Time, Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets), InSight (Mars)

Short Description: The goal of this module is to acquaint students with the planets of the solar system and some current models for their origin and evolution. During the explorations of the Cosmic Chemistry: Planetary Diversity module, students will make decisions concerning possible patterns or groupings of the physical and chemical compositions of internal structures and atmospheres of planets. Through classroom activities, they will be encouraged to examine some contemporary models proposed to explain the origin and evolution of the planets. In the final assessment activity students will use these experiences to predict the properties of the the missing planet that could have formed in the asteroid belt.

Dance of the Moon and Oceans
Topic: Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Sun, Earth, Earth's Moon

Short Description: Students discover how the moon's gravitational pull causes the level of the ocean to rise and fall twice a day along most coastlines through this kinesthetic activity, and consider what the Earth's tides might have been like if there were no moon.

Desert RATS Teacher Site Selection
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System

Short Description: Students research and present an exploration mission timeline proposal that utilizes the scientific process to meet science objectives and mission parameters for the field site. The goal is for students to create a 3-day mission timeline of activities for exploration.

Discovering Plate Boundaries
Topic: Volcanism in the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: This data-rich exercise to help students discover the processes that occur at plate tectonic boundaries is built around four global data maps: 1) Earthquake location and depth, 2) Location of recent volcanic activity, 3) Seafloor Age, and 4) Topography and Bathymetry. Alternative versions of the activity can concentrate on examining just the volcanic data and comparing the locations of volcanoes composed primarily of basalt to those of andesite and rhyolite, relative to plate boundaries.

Exploring Meteorite Mysteries: Lesson 10-Building Blocks of Planets
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites

Short Description: In Activity A students will observe and describe chondrite meteorites. In Activity B they will experiment with balloons and static electricity to illustrate the theories about how dust particles collected into larger clusters. In Activity C students will manipulate magnetic marbles and steel balls to dramatically illustrate the accretion of chondritic material into larger bodies like planets and asteroids.

Exploring Origins
Topic: Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
Body: Sun
Mission: Genesis (Our Solar System)

Short Description: The goal of Exploring Origins is to help students understand the cumulative nature of scientific knowledge and technological advancements and to understand the theoretical basis for the Genesis mission. By exploring ideas about the origins of the solar system held by various cultures throughout the ages, students will gain an understanding that the Genesis mission is providing data to answer age-old questions. This activity is geared towards grades 4 and up.

Flexing Muscles and Moons
Topic: Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Europa
Mission: Galileo (Jupiter), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students measure the effect of gravitational flexing (which keeps Io and Europa's interior warm) by taking the temperature of some flexible rubber balls. They also calculate the force of gravity.

Goldilocks and the Three Planets
Topic: Windy Worlds: Gas Giants, Atmospheres and Weather
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: Akatsuki (Venus), MAVEN (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Students determine what some of Earth, Venus and Mars' atmosphere is composed of and then mathematically compare the amount of the greenhouse gas, CO2, on the planets Venus, Earth and Mars in order to determine which has the most.

Heavyweight Champion: Jupiter and The Pull of the Planets Unit
Topic: Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Jupiter
Mission: Juno (Jupiter)

Short Description: The students explore gravity and its relationship to weight by weighing themselves on scales modified to represent weights on other worlds, and compare the features of different planets to determine which characteristics cause a planet to have more or less gravity.

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Last Updated: 21 Oct 2011