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This paper model shows the orbit of Comet ISON (late 2013) with respect to the innermost planets of the solar system. After reading background information about comets - how they form and where they come from - students cut out and tape together the... (View More) pieces of the model provided to show its orbital pathway (a single page of parts that can be assembled using just scissors and adhesive). Links are provided to related classroom activities and additional resources. (View Less)
This is an activity about visual analysis. Learners will create art inspired by planetary images while learning to recognize the geology on planetary surfaces. This presentation and accompanying activity uses the elements of art - shape, line,... (View More) color, texture, value - to make sense of features in NASA images, while honing observation skills and inspiring questions. (View Less)
This is an activity about asteroids. Learners will shape mashed potatoes into their own odd-shaped asteroids. They can then bake them in the oven to turn them (more or less) asteroid color, and eat them for dinner.
This is a game about the formation of the solar system. Learners dynamically engage in modeling the growth of asteroids from specks of matter. Similar to tag, the children run around, have fun, and burn off energy. Different from tag, there is... (View More) science involved! The end of activity debriefing discusses strengths and limits of the model. Note the setting for this activity should be large and open where students can run. (View Less)
In this activity, learners replicate the scientific processes of observing, forming an explanation, revising and communicating about a model of a comet. Learners construct a model of features of a comet using an assortment of common craft supplies.... (View More) This activity relates to several NASA comet missions such as Deep Impact, Stardust, Stardust-NExT, and EPOXI and can be used to emulate a process that scientists and engineers follow on all missions. (View Less)
This is a lesson about the shape of objects in space. Learners will observe the surface of rotating potatoes to help them understand how astronomers use variations in reflective brightness to determine the shape of asteroids.
This is a lesson about the definition of planet. Learners will use direct vocabulary instruction to learn the new definitions of planet, dwarf planet, and asteroid. The publicity generated by the International Astronomical Union’s definition of... (View More) Pluto as a dwarf planet in 2006 created a teachable moment for schools around the world to consider the definitions of these concepts and how discoveries necessitate a change in the language we use to talk about it. (View Less)
This is a detailed historical lesson about comets, distant icy worlds often visible to observers on Earth. Learners will consider the essential question, "What are comets?" They will practice observation and "noticing" skills as they enact a story... (View More) of comets travelling through the solar system and examine images of comets and the current space missions exploring them. This is lesson 10 of 12 in the unit, Exploring Ice in the Solar System. (View Less)
In this activity, students consider the sudden release of a tremendous amount of kinetic energy when an extraterrestrial object strikes the Earth. In small groups, they study satellite images that show possible evidence of impact events. To... (View More) demonstrate their understanding of the role of impact events in shaping the Earth, students design a field expedition to determine whether or not a given landform is an impact crater. The resource includes a lesson plan, satellite images, teacher background, student readings and worksheets, a student learning assessment rubric, and extensions. (View Less)
This is a lesson about the path meteorites take to get from the asteroid belt to Earth and how rare it is for the Earth to be hit by a large asteroid. Three activities comprise the lesson. Learners will draw circles and ellipses to illustrate basic... (View More) shapes of orbits in the solar system (Activity A); construct a scale-model of the inner solar system, observe relative distances and sizes, plot paths meteoroids might take and manipulate models to demonstrate the ecliptic plane (Activity B); and graph the locations of Earth and a near-earth asteroid, observe the significance of time and space, and estimate when the asteroid might cross the orbit of Earth (Activity C). Activities, vocabulary words, and experimental extensions are included. This is Lesson 4 of 19 in Exploring Meteorite Mysteries. (View Less)