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Educational Level:
Informal education  
Middle school  
Instructional Strategies:
Identifying similarities and differences  
SMD Forum - Primary:
Planetary Science  
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Students analyze and interpret the accompanying large-format images of Mars taken by NASA’s Mars Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera. The analysis involves identifying geologic features, calibrating the size of those features, and... (View More)

Common materials such as sand, gravel, pebbles, shells, etc. are used to represent crustal materials from an unknown planet. Students begin by sorting, classifying, and making observations about the sample. Using that information, they must then... (View More)

Each lesson or activity in this toolkit is related to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The toolkit is designed so that each lesson can be done independently, or combined and taught in a sequence. The Teacher Implementation Guide provides... (View More)

Learners work in teams to determine a landing site for their Mars Rover that best relates to their scientific question. They use technology skills to research Gale Crater through an online interactive module and learn about features of Mars through... (View More)

Learners will record detailed observations of a simulated surface and core sample of Mars, analyze a simulated surface and core sample of Mars, compare and contrast an unknown foreign object with the surface and interior of Mars, and learn... (View More)

Audience: Middle school
Materials Cost: Free

This 12-lesson unit includes inquiry-based lessons about the surface features of the Moon and the Earth and how these two worlds formed and continue to evolve. Students participate in real science as they help lunar scientists map the surface of the... (View More)

Colored beads and string are used to create a model of the solar system in order to explore size and distance relationships among planets. A second model for comparing planetary sizes uses common types of fruits and seeds(either actual fruits or the... (View More)

Learners will build an open spectrograph to calculate the angle the light is transmitted through a holographic diffraction grating. After finding the desired angles, the students will design their own spectrograph using the information learned. The... (View More)

This is an activity about the Signal-to-Noise Ratio. Learners will engage with a hands-on activity and an online interactive to understand the terms signal and noise as they relate to spacecraft communication; quantify noise using a given dataset;... (View More)

Audience: Middle school
Materials Cost: Free

Learners will compare known elemental spectra with spectra of Titan and Saturn’s rings from a spectrometer aboard the NASA Cassini spacecraft. They identify the elements visible in the planetary and lunar spectra. The activity is part of Project... (View More)

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