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Alka-Seltzer Rocket: How to Build Your Own Rocket
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: Building this rocket will help students understand how real rockets propel themselves into space.


All About Ice
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Spitzer (Our Solar System)

Short Description: In this suite of activities, students investigate ice, learn about its properties and explore how it can change states to a liquid or a gas. Through hands-on experiences, they observe ice, find its melting and freezing point, and learn about some of its unique properties, including that ice, the solid phase of water, is less dense than the liquid!


An Organism Based Upon Arsenic Not Phosphorus!
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: NASA researchers exploring extremophile bacteria in Mono Lake, California claimed to have discovered a new strain of bacterium GFAJ-1 in the Gammaproteobacteria group, which not only feeds on the poisonous element arsenic, but incorporates this element in its DNA as a replacement for normal phosphorus


Asteroid Eros
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Asteroids
Mission: NEAR Shoemaker (Asteroids)

Short Description: Mathematics problems based on images of the asteroid Eros. Problems include finding different measurements.


AstroVenture: Search for and Design a Habitable Planet
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Beyond Our Solar System, Europa
Mission: Galileo (Jupiter), Mars 2020 (Mars), MAFL (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars)

Short Description: Students roleplay NASA occupations, as they search for and build a planet with the necessary characteristics for human habitation. Atmospheric science is one of several modules, and includes nine lessons.


Cake Batter Lava
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: To understand some of the geological processes and the structures that form as lava flows across planetary landscapes by using cake batter as an analog for lava.


Close Encounters of the Asteroid Kind!
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Asteroids
Mission: DSN (Our Solar System)

Short Description: The Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Ariz., discovered two small asteroids on the morning of Sunday, September 5, 2010 during a routine monitoring of the skies.


Dance of the Moon and Oceans
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System 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. They also consider what the Earth's tides might have been like if there were no moon.


Desert RATS
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Mars, Earth's Moon

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.


Design Challenge: How Do You Keep Things Cool?
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Sun, Mercury
Mission: MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: Part of the "Staying Cool" education unit which investigates how MESSENGER can study Mercury without being damaged by the harsh high-temperature, high-radiation environment; in this activity, students design, build and test a model of MESSENGER and a sunshade.


Detecting Extrasolar Planets
Grade Level: 3-5
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Beyond Our Solar System

Short Description: In this session, students learn about the search for extrasolar planets using the method of transit detection. Teams are given access to a variety of materials and asked to construct a model that can be used to demonstrate the transit of a planet across the face of a star.


Discovering Plate Boundaries
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System 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.


Does the Moon Rotate?
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Earth's Moon
Mission: Apollo (Earth's Moon), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: Make a three-dimensional model of the Earth and Moon. Using the Sun's light. discover that the Moon does rotate, in the same amount of time it takes to make one orbit.


Dwarf Planets as a New Way of Thinking About an Old Solar System
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Dwarf Planets, Pluto, Ceres
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: This activity utilizes a researched-based instructional strategy called direct vocabulary instruction to help students understand the new definitions of planet and dwarf planet.


Earth-Moon Activity
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Earth, Earth's Moon
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: This activity helps students understand the size of and distance between Earth and the Moon. Students work in pairs using different-sized spherical objects to represent Earth and the Moon. They use the diameter of the objects to establish this scale.


Exploring Comets and Modeling for Mission Success
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Comets
Mission: Deep Impact (Comets)

Short Description: The purpose of this activity is to give educators information and activities surrounding the basics of comet science. Students get the opportunity to follow the path science has taken throughout history to explore comets. They'll also learn about how we are currently exploring comets and why mission teams perform modeling exercises on Earth in order to assure mission success in space.


Exploring Ice in the Solar System - Unit 1
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon, Europa, Pluto, Ceres
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets), Rosetta (Comets)

Short Description: Examine the importance of water in the form of ice in the solar system. From hands-on experiences with ice, the unit moves on to investigating ice in everyday life, in polar regions on Earth, and throughout the solar system.


Exploring Ice in the Solar System - Unit 2: The Voyage Continues
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon, Europa, Pluto, Ceres
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets), Rosetta (Comets)

Short Description: The Voyage education unit uses the remarkable power of models to provide an understanding of Earth's place in the Solar System and the Sun's place among the stars.


Exploring Ice in the Solar System - Unit 3: The Voyage Continues
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon, Europa, Pluto, Ceres
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets), Rosetta (Comets)

Short Description: The Voyage Continues education unit continues the exploration of the Solar System using the power of models to take a closer look into Solar System objects and phenomena.


Exploring Lunar Phases with a Daytime Moon
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth, Earth's Moon
Mission: Apollo (Earth's Moon), Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: This activity creates a model with the real Moon and Sun in the sky to help participants discover the real reason for the lunar phases.


Exploring Meteorite Mysteries: Lesson 10-Building Blocks of Planets
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets), DSN (Our Solar System)

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
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System 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.


Exploring the Earth's Magnetic Field
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: This is a workbook of 23 activities spanning the needs of K-12 teachers who want to discuss Earth's magnetism in varying degrees of detail. Chapters 2-3 contain 11 activities for high school students. It includes web-based activities, and a variety of hands-on experiments with magnets and electromagnetism.


Flexing Muscles and Moons
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System 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.


Follow the Falling Meteorite
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Meteors & Meteorites
Mission: Genesis (Our Solar System)

Short Description: In the activities in this lesson students use sound to easily demonstrate basic triangulation techniques. They also triangulate using a meteor's path to predict where meteorites might be found. Extended math applications may be added. Students also develop a treasure hunt map in the final activity


Geologic Landforms Seen on Aerial Photos
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: The objective of this exercise is to introduce students to landforms produced by the four major geologic processes using aerial photographs.


Globe Visualization - Atmosphere Unit
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: Atmospheric conditions can have an important impact on the types of plants and animals that can live in a particular area as well as soil formation. The atmospheric measurements collected by GLOBE students are important to scientists studying weather, climate, land cover, phenology, ecology, biology, hydrology and soil.


Globe Visualization - Soil Unit
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: Students and scientists investigate soils through the collection of data using measurement protocols and using instruments that meet certain specifications in order to ensure that data are comparable.


Goldilocks and the Three Planets
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System 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.


Golf Ball Phases and Embroidery Hoop Eclipses
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth, Earth's Moon
Mission: Apollo (Earth's Moon), Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: In the first half, students explore the dynamics of lunar phases to develop an understanding of the relative positions of our Moon, Earth, and Sun that cause the phases of the Moon as viewed from Earth. Using a golf ball glowing under the ultraviolet light of a "blacklight" makes it easier to see the actual phase of the Moon.

In the second half, students adjust their orbits of their moons to gain a deeper understanding of eclipses.


Heavyweight Champion: Jupiter and The Pull of the Planets Unit
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System 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.


How Much Would You Weigh on Distant Planets
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth's Moon
Mission: Apollo 11 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 12 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 14 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 15 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 17 (Earth's Moon), Apollo (Earth's Moon)

Short Description: Students view Web movies of astronauts on the moon and discuss what they can learn about one's lunar weight; a calculator is provided to get their weight on other planets; a discussion of the causes of weight and gravity is then suggested with different hypotheses.


Ice in the Solar System
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Earth's Moon
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: Students examine different types of ices, discover where these different ices occur in the solar system, how scientists determine what ice is where, meet some of the scientists who are exploring these ice worlds, and explore why their work is so important!


In the Footsteps of Galileo: Observing the Moons of Jupiter
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Jupiter, Europa
Mission: Juno (Jupiter)

Short Description: Students learn about the scientific method and do a simplified version of Galileo's pioneering observations of Jupiter's moons, which similarly supported a new model of our solar system.


Inside Mars -- Puzzling Patterns -- Where Does Volcanism Occur?
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars)

Short Description: Students compare volcano maps of Earth and Mars and identify patterns, similarities and differences.


Interstellar Real Estate -- Defining the Habitable Zone
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Earth
Mission: ACE (Our Solar System)

Short Description: What makes Earth the perfect home for life as we know it? Students in this activity explore the orbital characteristics a planetary home needs to support Earth-like life forms.


Investigation Transit Tracks
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Astrophysics (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: In this investigation, from the NASA Kepler mission Education and Public Outreach team, students describe a transit and the conditions when a transit may be seen; describe how a planet's size and distance from its star affects the behavior of transits; and interpret graphs of brightness versus time to deduce information about planet-star systems.


Is There Ice on Mercury?
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Mercury
Mission: MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: Since the 1990's, radio astronomers have mapped Mercury. An outstanding curiosity is that in the polar regions, some craters appear to have "anomalous reflectivity" in the shadowed areas of these craters. One interpretation is that this is caused by sub-surface ice


Is There Water on Mars?
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Spirit/Opportunity (Mars), Mars Express (Mars), Mars Global Surveyor (Mars), Mars Pathfinder (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), MAVEN (Mars)

Short Description: Is there liquid water on Mars? By experimenting with water as it changes state and investigating some effects of air pressure, students not only learn core ideas in physical science but can deduce the water situation on Mars by applying those concepts.


Jupiter's Family Secrets
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Jupiter
Mission: Galileo (Jupiter), Juno (Jupiter)

Short Description: In this series of brief station activities, students may examine the turbulent weather that creates Jupiter's distinctive banded appearance, violent storms, and clouds of many different colors.


Lakes of Methane on Titan
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Titan
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Huygens (Saturn)

Short Description: Mathematics problems based on images of lakes of Methane on Saturn's giant moon Titan. Problems include finding scale, surface area and volume.


Let's Investigate Mars
Grade Level: 3-5
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Human Spaceflight (Earth), Spirit/Opportunity (Mars), Mars Pathfinder (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), Mars Sample Return (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), MAVEN (Mars)

Short Description: This lesson will help your students answer the question: What do I need to know about Mars in order to live there in the future?


LRO Makes a Temperature Map of the Lunar South Pole
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth's Moon
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon)

Short Description: Students use the published LRO temperature map to study the scale of the south polar region, the sizes of its craters and estimate the volume of water-ice that may be present in Shackleton Crater.


Magnetic Sensor Measurements with a Graphing Calculator
Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Earth Science (Earth), InSight (Mars), Juno (Jupiter)

Short Description: This activity uses magnetic field sensors with the "Texas Instrument" Graphing Calculator and CBL to measure and plot magnetic fields. This allows the student to prove that magnetic fields decrease as the negative cube of the distance.


Magnetism and Electromagnetism
Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Earth Science (Earth), Juno (Jupiter), MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: In this review of basic magnetism, students map field lines around bar magnets to visualize the magnetic dipole field, and create their own electromagnet using copper wire, battery and a pencil to learn that electric currents create magnetic fields.


Making and Mapping a Volcano
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars)

Short Description: After each of a series of vinegar/baking soda eruptions, students use Play-Doh to mark where the lava flowed. In teams they examine the stratigraphy and map the flows.


Mapping Magnetic Influence
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), SOHO (Comets)

Short Description: This lesson is designed to allow your students to explore magnets and develop an operational definition of a magnet "field" and an operational definition for a magnetic "pole."


Mars Robotics Activities
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Mars
Mission: MSL / Curiosity (Mars)

Short Description: Mars robotics activities provide ideal ways to help students understand the role of engineering and technology in today's world. From looking at personal robots to those we send to other worlds, these activities will help students learn the different elements necessary to design, build and support robotic missions to the Red Planet.


Mars Student Imaging Project
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Earth, Mars
Mission: Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars)

Short Description: The Mars Student Imaging Project (MSIP) is a nationally recognized award winning authentic inquiry-based learning and student-centered education project. Students learn how science works by engaging in science research using data from a NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars. Students understand how science really works by actually being a scientist.


Mars Uncovered
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Mars
Mission: Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars)

Short Description: The Mars Uncovered activity guides students through an inquiry-based and critical thinking approach to studying the surface of Mars as planetary scientists do. Students will learn to create a geologic map of Mars and use relative age dating techniques to analyze the information and interpret the geologic history of that region.


Marsbound! Mission to the Red Planet
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Mars
Mission: Mars 2020 (Mars), Spirit/Opportunity (Mars), Mars Express (Mars), Mars Observer (Mars), Mars Pathfinder (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), Mars Sample Return (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), MAVEN (Mars), Phoenix (Mars)

Short Description: Students learn systems engineering by engaging in a mission planning simulation that mirrors a Mission to Mars. Students create a mission that has to balance the return of science data with mission limitations such as power, mass and budget.


Meteorite Compositions: A matter of density
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Meteors & Meteorites
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: Most people have heard about meteorites, and have seen meteors streaking across the night sky. These 'rocks' travel through space at thousands of kilometers per hour and can strike any other object in their way.


Microgravity in the Classroom
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System

Short Description: This activity consists of three demonstrations that create microgravity conditions by freefall.


Mission Design
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System
Mission: MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: Mission Design is intended to provide an overarching framework for discussing exploration in general. The module places space exploration in the greater context of the history of human exploration, and allows the students to investigate how scientists and engineers today plan missions to study worlds in the solar system and extend their exploration even farther in the Universe.


Morning Star and Evening Star
Grade Level: K-2
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Venus, Earth
Mission: Akatsuki (Venus), Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Students participate in a kinesthetic model that demonstrates that Venus is visible in the evening and morning sky.


Observing the Moon
Grade Level: K-2
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth's Moon

Short Description: The main goal of this activity is to give students firsthand experience making observations of the moon. This activity is not intended to teach students what causes the changing phases, But it is intended to provide experiences which will help students understand what causes phases when they are older.


Observing Where the Sun Sets
Grade Level: 3-5
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: This activity is for students to do at home. When they complete it, they will have created a horizon sun calendar much like ones that were used in many Native American tribes.


On the Moon
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Earth's Moon
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon)

Short Description: This guide has six activities that bring engineering and NASA's moon missions to life. Some are applicable for elementary-aged students, and one is for high school students, but most are targeted for middle school students.


Paper Plate Education
Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Venus
Mission: Heliophysics (Sun), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: This activity by Paper Plate Education models why Venus' transits come in pairs that are eight years apart, followed alternately by spans of 121.5 years and 105.5 years.


Planet Kepler-10b: A Matter of Gravity
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Hubble (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students use the measured properties of the Earth-like planet Kepler 10b such as its size and density, and by solving Newton's formula for gravity, they determine the weight of a 100 kilogram human standing on the planet's surface.


Planetary Geology: Impact Cratering
Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Earth Science (Earth), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Geologists studying impact craters have combined measurements of craters on the Earth, moon, and planets with laboratory experiments to develop approximate relations between the depth of a crater (d), its diameter (CD), and the diameter of the impacting body that produced the crater (ID). To explore these relations:

  • Use the data for Arizona's Meteor Crater shown in the class handout to estimate d/CD.
  • With that result and the laboratory observation d/ID ~ 7 develop a relation between the diameter of a crater and the diameter of the impacting body.
  • Why does any single such relation for all craters serve as only an approximation?
  • Use the result to estimate the size of the impactor that produced Meteor Crater and compare it to the estimates for the dimensions given in the class handout.


Plasma Wars
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Genesis (Our Solar System)
Short Description: Students use iron powder to model the solar wind. The student text introduces the idea of planetary diversity not only in the shape, size and strength of the planetary magnetospheres, but also in the types and sources of the high-energy charged particles that occupy them.


Reading, Writing and Rings
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Saturn
Mission: Cassini (Saturn)

Short Description: These activities blend the excitement of space exploration with reading and writing.


Rockets
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System

Short Description: This NASA educator's guide has a variety of hands-on activities about rockets -- a fundamental part of any planetary mission-- that can be used with older students, but are also easily grasped by elementary students.


Space Weather Action Center
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: Imagine being able to monitor the progress of an entire solar storm from the time it erupts from our Sun until it sweeps past our small planet effecting enormous changes in our magnetic field. Now imagine being able to do all of this from your Space Weather Action Center (S.W.A.C.)! By following the basic steps in the Instructional Guide your class will soon be on its way to accessing, analyzing and recording NASA satellite and observatory data.


Spinning Does More than Make You Dizzy
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Jupiter, Saturn
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), DSN (Our Solar System), Heliophysics (Sun), Webb Space Telescope (Our Solar System), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students investigate why the planets revolve around the Sun in the same direction and connect their formation to their motions in this simple demonstration.


Stardust Mission #1: Think Small in a Big Way
Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites, Comets
Mission: Stardust (Comets)

Short Description: Students will discover what happens when impactors hit the surface of a planet using balls of different sizes, flour and cocoa.


Strange New Planet
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Mars
Mission: Mariner 04 (Mars), Mariner 06 (Mars), Mariner 07 (Mars), Mariner 09 (Mars), Mars Global Surveyor (Mars), Mars Pathfinder (Mars), Viking 01 (Mars), Viking 02 (Mars)
Short Description: Strange New Planet brings insight into the processes involved in learning about planetary exploration. This activity demonstrates how planetary features are discovered by the use of remote sensing techniques.


Structure and Properties of Matter: Ion Propulsion Module
Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Asteroids, Dwarf Planets
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: This module is intended to engage students and the interested public in the propulsion technology that is necessary for Dawn to complete its mission. As students interact with this module, they will gain an understanding of charges and relative charge, momentum and frames of reference, ionization and plasma, how an ion propulsion system works, and they will experiment with designing an ion engine to determine optimal conditions.


Summit Up: Comparing Volcanoes on Mars and Earth
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Earth Science (Earth), Spirit/Opportunity (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars)

Short Description: Summit Up is a 20 minute activity in which children make paper models to scale of the tallest volcanic mountains on Earth and Mars and discover a big difference between volcanoes on these two planets.


The Earth-like Planet Gliese 518g
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Astrophysics (Beyond Our Solar System), Hubble (Beyond Our Solar System), Webb Space Telescope (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students use data for the Gliese 581 planetary system to draw a scaled model of the locations and sizes of the discovered planets. They also identify the location and span of the Habitable Zone for this planetary system.


The Goldilocks Planets -- Not Too Hot or Cold
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: Heliophysics (Sun), Spitzer (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Once you have discovered a planet, you need to figure out whether liquid water might be present. In our solar system, Mercury and Venus are so close to the sun that water cannot remain in liquid form. It vaporizes! For planets beyond Mars, the sun is so far away that water will turn to ice. Only in what astronomers call the Habitable Zone will a planet have a chance for being at the right temperature for liquid water to exist in large quantities on its surface!


The Goldilocks Principle: A Model of Atmospheric Gases
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: Akatsuki (Venus), Earth Science (Earth), MAVEN (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: This activity introduces students to the atmospheric differences between the three sister planets in a graphic and hands-on way, using jelly beans or cotton balls to model different atmospheric gases. Students will use this understanding later as they begin to appreciate the scope and importance of the greenhouse effect on Earth.


The History and Discovery of Asteroids
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: More Than an Hour
Solar System Body: Asteroids
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: Learners will explore scientific discoveries and the technologies as a sequence of events that led eventually to the Dawn mission.


The Hunt for Micrometeorites
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Earth, Meteors & Meteorites

Short Description: In this activity, students collect and identify micrometeorites from space.


The Moons of Jupiter
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Jupiter, Europa

Short Description: Students investigate how the density of Jupiter's moons is related to their diameter and their distance from Jupiter.


The Oldest Lunar Rocks
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth's Moon
Mission: Apollo 11 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 12 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 14 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 15 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 16 (Earth's Moon), Apollo 17 (Earth's Moon)

Short Description: Apollo astronauts recovered over 840 pounds of lunar rocks, and during the last 30 years, these have been carefully studied to find out which features came first, and the ancient hi story of the lunar surface including its formation.


The Orbit Simulator
Grade Level: 3-5
Solar System Body: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Comets
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: This simulator lets students explore many aspects of the orbits of planets and one comet.

NGSS Connections:


The Penny Moon and Quarter Earth
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Earth's Moon
Mission: Apollo (Earth's Moon), Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: The students will use a penny and a quarter to model the Moon's rotation on its axis and revolution around the Earth, and demonstrate that the Moon keeps the same face toward the Earth


The Transit of Mercury
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Mercury, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun), Mariner 10 (Mercury), MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: As seen from Earth, the planet Mercury occasionally passes across the face of the sun; an event that astronomers call a transit. From images taken by the Hinode satellite, students will create a model of the solar disk to the same scale as the image, and calculate the distance to the sun.


The Water Cycle - Now You See It, Now You Don't
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: Elementary students learn about the relationship between temperature and condensation.


Unlocking the Mysteries: Science on the Edge of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System

Short Description: "Unlocking the Mysteries: Science on the Edge of Our Solar System" encourages students to think about the mysteries and wonders of the solar system and consider the possibilities.

This education module features the award-winning 29-minute Discovery Program overview video, Unlocking Mysteries of Our Solar System, which takes you along on the explorations of NASA's Discovery missions.


Unveiling Titan's Surface
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Venus, Earth, Titan
Mission: Cassini (Saturn)

Short Description: Students will make measurements of topographic features and to draw maps based on these data. This will be done in a way that is analogous to making radar measurements of topography through vegetation (on Earth) or through clouds (on Venus, Titan and Earth).


Using MY NASA DATA to Determine Volcanic Activity
Grade Level: 9-12
Solar System Body: Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: Students use NASA satellite data of optical depth as a tool to determine volcanic activity on Reunion Island during 2000-2001.


Vegetable Light Curves
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Asteroids
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: In the activity "Vegetable Light Curves," students observe the surface of rotating potatoes to help them understand how astronomers can sometimes determine the shape of asteroids from variations in reflective brightness.


Volcanoes are a Blast: Working with Simple Equations
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Earth, Asteroids, Earth's Moon, Enceladus
Mission: ARM (Asteroids), Cassini (Saturn), Earth Science (Earth), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon)

Short Description: Students examine the famous Krakatoa explosion, asteroid impacts on the moon and geysers on Enceladus (a moon of Saturn) using three equations that describe the height of the plume and initial velocity to answer questions about the speed of the debris and terminal height.


What Are We Made Of?
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Genesis (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students learn that elements are the basic building blocks of all things found on Earth and in space including water, the human body, the Earth, the sun, and the planets. By counting elements extracted from a simulated sample, students explore how the extraction of atoms from the Genesis samples help scientists have a better understanding of the abundances of elements from the solar wind. This hands-on experience helps students discover that the elemental abundances from the sun can be used as a baseline to compare with the diverse bodies of our solar system.


What Makes Day and Night?
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: In this demonstration of day and night, students learn kinesthetically as they take on the role of the Earth orbiting the rotating sun.


What Makes Shadows?
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: Students learn about shadows as they observe and draw the shadow of a classmate.


What's the Difference?
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Solar System Body: Earth, Mars
Mission: InSight (Mars), MAVEN (Mars)

Short Description: This is a free multimedia software application that facilitates scientific analysis by allowing virtually any pictures, graphics, animations and movies to be compared side by side. The solar system dataset contains comparisons of the planets and major moons within our solar system. Users can upload graphical, animated, interactive, textual, and audio-formatted content into the categories and attributes grid and then supplement their data with customized multiple choice and summary assessment tests.


Where Are the Distant Worlds?
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Astrophysics (Beyond Our Solar System), Hubble (Beyond Our Solar System), Webb Space Telescope (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Use a star map to find constellations and to identify stars with extrasolar planets.


Why Do Eclipses Happen? What Is an Eclipse?
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Lesson Time: Less Than 30 Minutes
Solar System Body: Sun, Earth, Earth's Moon
Mission: Apollo (Earth's Moon), Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: Using simple materials, participants create 3D models of the Earth, Moon and Sun and demonstrate solar and lunar eclipses.

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Last Updated: 21 Oct 2011