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Solar System Planet Research Project

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Keywords: STEM, solar system, space, orbit, rotate, mass, satelite
Subject(s): Technology, Science, Writing, Earth Science, Reading, Math, English/Language Arts
Grades 3 through 5
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Torah Sch of Greater WA, Silver Spring, MD
Planned By: Chaya Shinensky
Original Author: Chaya Shinensky, Silver Spring

Chaya Shinensky
Grades 3-5
Science: The Planets in our Solar System
Class Periods: 6-8, 50 minute classes

Justification: STEM components
Students will research the characteristics of the planets in our solar system utilizing graphing skills learned in math. They will then use technology to design a planet “commercial,” using a computer based coding program. As a closing activity students will be asked to design an imaginary spacecraft.

NGSS: Disciplinary Core ideas

Asking Questions and Defining Problems
Developing and Using Models
Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
Engaging in Argument from Evidence
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts
Patterns- organization and classification of objects in space
Scale, proportion, and Quantity - of various objects in our solar system
Systems and models - used to better understand our solar system
Cause and Effect - observe how objects in space interact with each other
Nature of Science:
Scientific Knowledge is Based on Empirical Evidence
Scientific Knowledge is Open to Revision in Light of New Evidence
Scientific Knowledge Assumes an Order and Consistency in Natural Systems

Common Core Standards:
SL.5.5 - Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes. (5-ESS1-2)
W.5.1 - Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information. (5-ESS1-1), (5-PS2-1)
MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (5-ESS1-1), (5-ESS1-2)
MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (5-ESS1-1), (5-ESS1-2)

Measurable Objectives:
Students will collect data and use graphs to compare and contrast the planets in our solar system
Students will define the unique characteristics of each planet in our solar system
Students will define criteria used to identify a planet
Students will use evidence to argue whether pluto should be considered a planet or not
Students will design a rocket concept that would have the ability to visit planets in deep space
Hook- Solar System Introduction Video
Use “K,W,L” model to lead class discussion
Before video: What do you already know about our solar system? How is each planet in our solar system unique?
After video: What was something new that you learned? What is something you wonder or want to know more about?
Explore: How can we learn more about our solar system? We can research
What are some planet facts we can look for? Size, distance...

Lesson 1:
Distance: First, we will focus on the distance of the planets from the sun.
How can we measure distance in space? Inches, feet?
Scientists made a new category for measuring distance in space called AU’s

Students will use a chart to sort the distances of each planet using 3 forms of measurements:
Miles, AU’s & Yards (Football field)
Students will create a bar graph using the chart to graph the planets distances in yards.
Using their bar graphs students will create a visual layout of the planets distances using a roll of toilet paper. (1 yard = 1 sheet of toilet paper)

Lesson 2:
Size: Students will research the approximate size of each planet.
Students will create a bar graph of the planets sizes.
Using their bar graphs students will compare the planets to a variety of fruits, arranging them in size order, proportionately to the planets sizes.

Lesson 3:
What are some other ways we can compare the planets in our solar system?
Make a list of student responses.
Possible answers: length of a year, length of a day, how many moons? Average temperature

Students will be assigned a planet to research with a partner using nonfiction texts and a hyperdoc for web references.

Each student will be assigned a planet to research.
Students will use “Top Trumps” research questions to guide them.

Research references:
Delta Science readers
Space Missions:
Facts: Nasa
Students will discuss their discoveries as a class, and think about how distance, size and temperature etc. are important characteristics for describing the planets. Students will create a Google Slide presentation about the planet they researched, to present to their classmates.
Elaborate: What adaptations would we need to try and survive in space, or visit other planets?
Write a persuasive essay using facts obtained during the research process, to convince humans to come visit your planet.
Students will create a commercial about their planet using the coding program
“Scratch Junior”
Extend: Design
Design a cruise rocketship that is designed to visit planets in deep space. What features would you include that would be especially helpful for each planet?
Rubric for graphs
Rubric for toilet paper & fruit activities
Rubric for Google Slide presentation
Rubric for writing assignment
Rubric for Scratch assignment
Rubric for rocketship design

Summative Assessment: Google Forms Quiz on the solar system

What are some other space objects found in our solar system?
Compare the different moons in our solar system.
What is the status of Pluto?

Materials: various fruit, toilet paper

Cross-Curriculum Ideas
integrates language arts with writing component.
Based on the IAU's definition of a planet, write a persuasive paragraph arguing whether Pluto should be a planet or a dwarf planet. Post your paragraph on debate.org
Materials: Digital Voice Recorders, Elementary, Speech and Language
Other Items: 23 Chromebooks, $300 each, total of $6900.00