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Beyond Our Solar System: Education
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Beyond Our Solar System Activities
The lessons below are teacher-favorite lessons focused on distant solar system and galaxies in our universe. 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.


Beyond Our Solar System Lessons:

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A Case of the Wobbles: Finding Extra-Solar Planets
Topic: Discovering New Worlds
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Astrophysics (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students plot and analyze NASA data to determine the period of an invisible planet orbiting a wobbling star.


Detecting Planet Transits
Topic: Discovering New Worlds
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Astrophysics (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students model NASA's Kepler mission observations of planetary transits (a planet moving in front of a star) by standing in a circle with model star (light bulb) in the center, and observing, through rolled up paper viewing tubes, a "bead" planet orbiting the star.


Discoveries in Planetary Science Slide Sets
Topic: Discovering New Worlds
Body: Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Astrophysics (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: These four-slide powerpoints by the Division of Planetary Science include basic information for college-level introductory courses. Many of them are on the topic of recently discovered exoplanets.


Discovering Earth-like Worlds by their Color
Topic: Discovering New Worlds, Space Math
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: 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 recent measurements of the reflected light from solar system bodies to graph their colors and to use this in classifying new planets as Earth-like, moon-like or Jupiter-like.


Earth-sized Planets by the Score!
Topic: Discovering New Worlds, Space Math
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Astrophysics (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students use recent Kepler satellite data summarized in tabular form to estimate the number of planets in the Milky Way galaxy that are about the same size as our Earth, and located in their Habitable Zones were liquid water may exist.


Estimating the Temperatures of Exoplanets
Topic: Discovering New Worlds, Space Math
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Astrophysics (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students review the basic properties of ellipses by exploring the orbits of newly-discovered planets orbiting other stars. They also use a simple formula to determine the temperatures of the planets from their orbits.


Exoplanet Orbits and the Properties of Ellipses
Topic: Discovering New Worlds, Space Math
Body: Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Astrophysics (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: Given the formula for the orbits of newly-discovered planets, students determine the basic properties of the elliptical orbits for the planets.


Investigating the Atmosphere of Super-Earth GJ 1214b
Topic: Space Math, Windy Worlds: Gas Giants, Atmospheres and Weather
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Hubble (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students create a model of the interior of an exoplanet using its mass, average density and radius as constraints to determine the thickness of its atmosphere.


Kepler Spies Five New Planets
Topic: Discovering New Worlds, Space Math
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Astrophysics (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students count squares on a Bizarro Star to study the transit of a planet, and determine the diameter of the planet. This demonstrates the basic principle used by NASA's Kepler satellite to search for Earth-sized planets orbiting distant stars.


Kepler Star Wheel
Topic: Discovering New Worlds
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Beyond Our Solar System
Mission: Astrophysics (Beyond Our Solar System)

Short Description: Participants make a constellation map of the night sky which shows the locations of many of the discovered planetary systems.

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Last Updated: 8 Apr 2014