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The words "solar system" refer to the sun and all of the objects that travel around it - planets, natural satellites such as the moon, the asteroid belt, comets and meteoroids. Our solar system is part of a spiral galaxy known as the Milky Way. The sun, the center of our solar system, holds eight planets and countless smaller objects in its orbit.

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  Videos Activities Explore Our Solar System in 3D

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Active Accretion
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Body: Our Solar System, Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: Students act as dust grains that come together to model early planet formation by the process of accretion in our solar system.


All About Ice
Topic: Ice in the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Our Solar System, Earth

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!


Auroral Magnetism from the Ground (Activity 7)
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: Students analyze graphs to determine the range of magnetic changes at Canadian observatories.


Best of the Solar System
Topic: Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon, Europa, Pluto
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Dawn (Dwarf Planets), Galileo (Jupiter), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

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.


Build a Solar System
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: IBEX (Our Solar System), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: This resource from the Exploratorium allows teachers and students to select a size for an object to represent the sun and all other sizes and distances in the solar system and distances to other interesting stars are calculated. The resource can be very good for a differentiated classroom to reduce the math requirement.


Changes Inside Planets (Differentiation and Breakup)
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: Students conduct experiments to model the separation of light and heavy materials within a planetary body using gelatin. In a second activity, students model the break-up of a differentiated body using frozen hard-boiled eggs.


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.


Crash Landing!
Topic: Evolving Worlds: Planets, Like People, Grow and Change Over Time
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: ARTEMIS (Earth's Moon), Earth Science (Earth), InSight (Mars), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), Venus Express (Venus), Viking 01 (Mars), Viking 02 (Mars)

Short Description: This activity examines the conditions necessary to support on-going life on a planet. After considering the conditions needed for life as we know it, students select the most habitable planet, in a fictitious planetary system, on which to crash land.


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.


Discoveries in Planetary Science Slide Sets
Topic: Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System

Short Description: These slide presentations for use in undergraduate classes cover new discoveries in planetary science. They are available in Spanish and English.


Dunking the Planets
Topic: Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: In this 30-minute demonstration, children ages 9-13 compare the relative sizes and masses of scale models of the planets as represented by fruits and other foods. The children dunk the "planets" in water to highlight the fact that even a large, massive planet -- such as Saturn -- can have low density. They discuss how a planet's density is related to whether it is mainly made up of rock or gas.


Dwarf Planets as a New Way of Thinking About an Old Solar System
Topic: Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree, Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Dwarf Planets, Pluto
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets)

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


Egg Drop Lander
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System

Short Description: Students design a package to contain and successfully land a raw egg, unbroken from a fall to the ground. While the calculations suggested in this description may be beyond young students, the challenges of designing a successful egg drop lander are appropriate for all ages.


Exploring Crustal Materials from a Mystery Planet
Topic: Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: Students observe the characteristics of "crustal material" samples, classify material into groups, infer causes for the characteristics of the various samples, and infer the history of the mystery planet.


Exploring Ice in the Solar System
Topic: Ice in the Solar System, Water in the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8
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 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 the Earth's Magnetic Field
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
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.


Gelatin Volcanoes
Topic: Volcanism in the Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Jell-O is used to explore how lava flows in a volcano.


Getting a Feel for Gravity
Topic: Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: DS1 (Asteroids), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: In this kinesthetic activity, students use their own bodies to create a model of the solar system and the forces the sun and planets exert on each other and on passing objects such as spacecraft.


Gravitation 3.8
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: An interactive gravity modeler that can simulate a solar system, and allows you to drag the planets into new parameters; this can be used to observe gravitational interaction.


Ice in the Solar System
Topic: Ice in the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8
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
Topic: Moons and Rings, Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
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.


Jump to Jupiter
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Jupiter
Mission: Galileo (Jupiter), Juno (Jupiter), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Children help create and then navigate an outdoor course of the traditional "planets" (including dwarf planet Pluto), which are represented by small common objects. By counting the jumps needed to reach each object, children experience first-hand the vast scale of our solar system.


Magnetic Math
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Juno (Jupiter), MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: This book contains hands-on exercises and math problems which allow students to explore magnetism and magnetic fields. The activities include drawing and geometric construction, and introduce students in the use of simple algebra to quantitatively examine magnetic forces, energy, and magnetic field lines and their mathematical structure.


Magnetic Sensor Measurements with a Graphing Calculator
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 9-12
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
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
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.


Make the Itty Bitty Radio Telescope
Topic: Ancient Astronomers / Modern Tools
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: DSN (Our Solar System)

Short Description: This requires a variety of equipment and a fair amount of oversight.


Microgravity in the Classroom
Topic: Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System

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


Mission Design
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
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.


New Horizons: Orbit and Spin
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Our Solar System, Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Pluto
Mission: New Horizons (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: In this kinesthetic activity, students explore the size, distance, orbit, and spin of the Sun, Moon and Earth.


Out of Sight Remote Vehicle Activity
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: MSL / Curiosity (Mars)

Short Description: Engineers and scientists tested the FIDO rover in the Mojave Desert. The rover drivers worked out of a trailer without watching the rovers. In similar fashion, in this activity students drive a remote-controlled car through a course to learn the challenges faced while trying to operate a planetary rover. They use measurement, geometry and problem-solving skills to move through the course.


Planetary Billiards
Topic: Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Saturn
Mission: Cassini (Saturn)

Short Description: Using steel balls and magnets, students gain an understanding of how gravity is used to modify the trajectory of spacecraft.


Plasma Wars
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Genesis (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students use iron powder to model the solar wind, moving under pressure created by a pipette, encountering and interacting with an enclosed magnetic field. 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.


Rockets
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
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.


Scale Model of Sun and Earth
Topic: The Sun, Transits and Eclipses
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: This activity explores the relative size of sun and Earth, as well as the distance between them.


Schoolyard Solar System
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: The vastness of the solar system offers a unique lesson in large numbers and in scale. "The Schoolyard Solar System" was developed to demonstrate the solar system to scale; to show the relationship between units of thousands, millions and billions; and to accomplish these goals with student involvement that will re-enforce the lessons.


Solar System in My Neighborhood
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: In this 1-hour activity, students shrink the scale of the vast solar system to the size of their neighborhood. They are challenged to consider not only the traditional "planets," but also some of the smaller objects orbiting the sun. Children compare the relative sizes of scale models of the planets, two dwarf planets, and a comet as represented by fruits and other foods. They determine the spacing between the scaled planets on a map of the neighborhood and relate those distances to familiar landmarks. This indoor activity may be used in addition to, or in place of, the outdoor scale model explored in Jump to Jupiter.


Solar System Math
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: A series of four classroom lessons centered on pre-algebra topics such as measurement, unit conversion, ratio and proportion, scale, data analysis, and data representation. The downloadable software application, "What's the Difference," supports the lessons with engaging multimedia that accurately illustrates the size, distance and composition of the bodies in our solar system.


Space Weather Action Center
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields, The Sun, Transits and Eclipses
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
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
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4
Body: 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.


The Classroom Magnetometer
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: Students build and operate a simple magnetometer using a soda bottle and a bar magnet, and use it to monitor changes in Earth's magnetic field.


The Orbit Simulator
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System
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. This could be a great teaching tool.


The Pull of the Planets
Topic: Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Jupiter
Mission: Juno (Jupiter)

Short Description: Students model the gravitational fields of planets on a flexible surface. Children place and move balls of different sizes and densities on a plastic sheet to develop a mental picture of how the mass of an object influences how much affect it has on the surrounding space.


The Solar Wind Tunnel: A Comet Borrelly Interactive
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets, Comets
Mission: Rosetta (Comets), SOHO (Comets), Wind (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students compare their observations of the solar wind's interaction with magnetized planets, non-magnetized planets, comets, and asteroids, and record their observations online.


The Thousand Yard Model
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: This is a classic exercise for visualizing just how BIG our solar system really is. Both the relative size and spacing of the planets are demonstrated in this outdoor exercise, using a mere peppercorn to represent the size of the Earth.


The Voyage Scale Model Solar System
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: In October 2001, the Voyage Scale Model Solar System opened in Washington, DC, displaying a one to ten billion scale of the sizes of the sun and planets, and the distances between them. In this lesson, students will replicate the Voyage model to experience the size of the solar system.


Time Lineup
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 (Beyond Our Solar System), InSight (Mars), Juno (Jupiter), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), MAVEN (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), Viking 01 (Mars), Viking 02 (Mars), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System), WISE (Our Solar System)

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.


Tracking a Solar Storm
Topic: Ancient Astronomers / Modern Tools, Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: This is a pair of high school-level workbooks featuring advanced problems in mathematics and science that are based on experiments performed with the IMAGE satellite.


What Are We Made Of? The Sun, the Earth, and You
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun
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.

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Previous
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    1     2     3     4     5    
Next
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Active Accretion
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Body: Our Solar System, Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: Students act as dust grains that come together to model early planet formation by the process of accretion in our solar system.


All About Ice
Topic: Ice in the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Our Solar System, Earth

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!


Auroral Magnetism from the Ground (Activity 7)
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: Students analyze graphs to determine the range of magnetic changes at Canadian observatories.


Best of the Solar System
Topic: Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon, Europa, Pluto
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Dawn (Dwarf Planets), Galileo (Jupiter), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

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.


Build a Solar System
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: IBEX (Our Solar System), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: This resource from the Exploratorium allows teachers and students to select a size for an object to represent the sun and all other sizes and distances in the solar system and distances to other interesting stars are calculated. The resource can be very good for a differentiated classroom to reduce the math requirement.


Changes Inside Planets (Differentiation and Breakup)
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: Students conduct experiments to model the separation of light and heavy materials within a planetary body using gelatin. In a second activity, students model the break-up of a differentiated body using frozen hard-boiled eggs.


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.


Crash Landing!
Topic: Evolving Worlds: Planets, Like People, Grow and Change Over Time
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: ARTEMIS (Earth's Moon), Earth Science (Earth), InSight (Mars), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), Venus Express (Venus), Viking 01 (Mars), Viking 02 (Mars)

Short Description: This activity examines the conditions necessary to support on-going life on a planet. After considering the conditions needed for life as we know it, students select the most habitable planet, in a fictitious planetary system, on which to crash land.


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.


Discoveries in Planetary Science Slide Sets
Topic: Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System

Short Description: These slide presentations for use in undergraduate classes cover new discoveries in planetary science. They are available in Spanish and English.


Dunking the Planets
Topic: Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: In this 30-minute demonstration, children ages 9-13 compare the relative sizes and masses of scale models of the planets as represented by fruits and other foods. The children dunk the "planets" in water to highlight the fact that even a large, massive planet -- such as Saturn -- can have low density. They discuss how a planet's density is related to whether it is mainly made up of rock or gas.


Dwarf Planets as a New Way of Thinking About an Old Solar System
Topic: Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree, Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Dwarf Planets, Pluto
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets), New Horizons (Dwarf Planets)

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


Egg Drop Lander
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System

Short Description: Students design a package to contain and successfully land a raw egg, unbroken from a fall to the ground. While the calculations suggested in this description may be beyond young students, the challenges of designing a successful egg drop lander are appropriate for all ages.


Exploring Crustal Materials from a Mystery Planet
Topic: Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: Students observe the characteristics of "crustal material" samples, classify material into groups, infer causes for the characteristics of the various samples, and infer the history of the mystery planet.


Exploring Ice in the Solar System
Topic: Ice in the Solar System, Water in the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8
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 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 the Earth's Magnetic Field
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
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.


Gelatin Volcanoes
Topic: Volcanism in the Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Venus, Earth, Mars
Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey (Mars), Mars Recon Orbiter (Mars), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Jell-O is used to explore how lava flows in a volcano.


Getting a Feel for Gravity
Topic: Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: DS1 (Asteroids), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: In this kinesthetic activity, students use their own bodies to create a model of the solar system and the forces the sun and planets exert on each other and on passing objects such as spacecraft.


Gravitation 3.8
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: An interactive gravity modeler that can simulate a solar system, and allows you to drag the planets into new parameters; this can be used to observe gravitational interaction.


Ice in the Solar System
Topic: Ice in the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8
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
Topic: Moons and Rings, Our Evolving Understanding of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
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.


Jump to Jupiter
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Jupiter
Mission: Galileo (Jupiter), Juno (Jupiter), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Children help create and then navigate an outdoor course of the traditional "planets" (including dwarf planet Pluto), which are represented by small common objects. By counting the jumps needed to reach each object, children experience first-hand the vast scale of our solar system.


Magnetic Math
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
Mission: Cassini (Saturn), Juno (Jupiter), MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: This book contains hands-on exercises and math problems which allow students to explore magnetism and magnetic fields. The activities include drawing and geometric construction, and introduce students in the use of simple algebra to quantitatively examine magnetic forces, energy, and magnetic field lines and their mathematical structure.


Magnetic Sensor Measurements with a Graphing Calculator
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 9-12
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
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
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.


Make the Itty Bitty Radio Telescope
Topic: Ancient Astronomers / Modern Tools
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: DSN (Our Solar System)

Short Description: This requires a variety of equipment and a fair amount of oversight.


Microgravity in the Classroom
Topic: Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System

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


Mission Design
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
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.


New Horizons: Orbit and Spin
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Our Solar System, Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, Pluto
Mission: New Horizons (Dwarf Planets)

Short Description: In this kinesthetic activity, students explore the size, distance, orbit, and spin of the Sun, Moon and Earth.


Out of Sight Remote Vehicle Activity
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: MSL / Curiosity (Mars)

Short Description: Engineers and scientists tested the FIDO rover in the Mojave Desert. The rover drivers worked out of a trailer without watching the rovers. In similar fashion, in this activity students drive a remote-controlled car through a course to learn the challenges faced while trying to operate a planetary rover. They use measurement, geometry and problem-solving skills to move through the course.


Planetary Billiards
Topic: Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Saturn
Mission: Cassini (Saturn)

Short Description: Using steel balls and magnets, students gain an understanding of how gravity is used to modify the trajectory of spacecraft.


Plasma Wars
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Genesis (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students use iron powder to model the solar wind, moving under pressure created by a pipette, encountering and interacting with an enclosed magnetic field. 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.


Rockets
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
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.


Scale Model of Sun and Earth
Topic: The Sun, Transits and Eclipses
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: This activity explores the relative size of sun and Earth, as well as the distance between them.


Schoolyard Solar System
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: The vastness of the solar system offers a unique lesson in large numbers and in scale. "The Schoolyard Solar System" was developed to demonstrate the solar system to scale; to show the relationship between units of thousands, millions and billions; and to accomplish these goals with student involvement that will re-enforce the lessons.


Solar System in My Neighborhood
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: In this 1-hour activity, students shrink the scale of the vast solar system to the size of their neighborhood. They are challenged to consider not only the traditional "planets," but also some of the smaller objects orbiting the sun. Children compare the relative sizes of scale models of the planets, two dwarf planets, and a comet as represented by fruits and other foods. They determine the spacing between the scaled planets on a map of the neighborhood and relate those distances to familiar landmarks. This indoor activity may be used in addition to, or in place of, the outdoor scale model explored in Jump to Jupiter.


Solar System Math
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: A series of four classroom lessons centered on pre-algebra topics such as measurement, unit conversion, ratio and proportion, scale, data analysis, and data representation. The downloadable software application, "What's the Difference," supports the lessons with engaging multimedia that accurately illustrates the size, distance and composition of the bodies in our solar system.


Space Weather Action Center
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields, The Sun, Transits and Eclipses
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
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
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: K-4
Body: 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.


The Classroom Magnetometer
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: Students build and operate a simple magnetometer using a soda bottle and a bar magnet, and use it to monitor changes in Earth's magnetic field.


The Orbit Simulator
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System
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. This could be a great teaching tool.


The Pull of the Planets
Topic: Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Jupiter
Mission: Juno (Jupiter)

Short Description: Students model the gravitational fields of planets on a flexible surface. Children place and move balls of different sizes and densities on a plastic sheet to develop a mental picture of how the mass of an object influences how much affect it has on the surrounding space.


The Solar Wind Tunnel: A Comet Borrelly Interactive
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets, Comets
Mission: Rosetta (Comets), SOHO (Comets), Wind (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students compare their observations of the solar wind's interaction with magnetized planets, non-magnetized planets, comets, and asteroids, and record their observations online.


The Thousand Yard Model
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: This is a classic exercise for visualizing just how BIG our solar system really is. Both the relative size and spacing of the planets are demonstrated in this outdoor exercise, using a mere peppercorn to represent the size of the Earth.


The Voyage Scale Model Solar System
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: In October 2001, the Voyage Scale Model Solar System opened in Washington, DC, displaying a one to ten billion scale of the sizes of the sun and planets, and the distances between them. In this lesson, students will replicate the Voyage model to experience the size of the solar system.


Time Lineup
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 (Beyond Our Solar System), InSight (Mars), Juno (Jupiter), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), MAVEN (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), Viking 01 (Mars), Viking 02 (Mars), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System), WISE (Our Solar System)

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.


Tracking a Solar Storm
Topic: Ancient Astronomers / Modern Tools, Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: This is a pair of high school-level workbooks featuring advanced problems in mathematics and science that are based on experiments performed with the IMAGE satellite.


What Are We Made Of? The Sun, the Earth, and You
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun
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.

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