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Solar System Activities
The lessons below are teacher-favorite lessons focused on our solar system. 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.


Our Solar System Lessons:

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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.


Cosmic Chemistry: Planetary Diversity
Grade Level: 6-8
Lesson Time: 30-60 Minutes
Solar System Body: Our Solar System, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Meteors & Meteorites, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets
Mission: Dawn (Dwarf Planets), Genesis (Our Solar System), 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. Students 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, students use these experiences to predict the properties of the a missing planet that could have formed in the asteroid belt.


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.


Exploring Meteorite Mysteries: Lesson 10-Building Blocks of Planets
Grade Level: 6-8
Solar System 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.


In the Footsteps of Galileo: Observing the Moons of Jupiter
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
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.


Magnetic Sensor Measurements with a Graphing Calculator
Grade Level: 9-12
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
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.


Microgravity in the Classroom
Grade Level: 6-8
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
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.


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.


Spinning Does More than Make You Dizzy
Grade Level: 6-8
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.


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.


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.


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.

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Last Updated: 5 May 2014