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Earth Activities
The lessons below are teacher-favorite lessons focused on Earth. For more search options or to search by other science target, missions and other criteria, visit our Fast Lesson Finder. You can also search by curriculum standards on our popular Curriculum Standards Quilts.


Earth Lessons:

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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 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.


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.


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.


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 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.

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Last Updated: 28 Apr 2014