Enduring Understanding: While the composition of planets varies considerably, their components and the applicable laws of science are universal.Essential Questions
  • What predictable, observable patterns occur as a result of the interaction between the Earth, Moon, and Sun?
  • What causes these patterns?
  • How are planets and other objects in the Solar System similar and different to Earth?
  • What implication does this have for the existence and sustaining of life?
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Planet Spreadsheet Activities - Done during ICT time
Download Open Office version of database:

Download Open Office version of Planets Questions:


Activity 1 - based on page 389 of text.
1. Using the Planets Database (planets.xls) downloaded from Exploring the Solar System, students will sort the data, then create a graph and answer a question.
2. Sort the database on Column K, so the planets are listed in order from closest to the sun to the most distant.
3. Create a column graph with Planet Names in the X axis and Orbit in Earth Years in the Y axis.
4. Answer the following question: Based on your graph and data table, what relationships can you find between the length of the year (time) and the planet's location in the solar system? Show your graph and explain your answer to your partner. Then show the graph and share your answer with Mrs. Carrier.

Activity 2: Activity Below based on Exploring the Solar System
Using Two Minute Talks as an activating strategy, students will brainstorm facts about the solar system.
1. Pair up students in groups of two.
2. Have the student pairs choose a "starter."
3. Explain to students that the starting person will begin the Two Minute Talk by talking for 60 seconds (1 minute) about the Solar System. During this time, they are to share with their partner everything they can think of related to the Solar System.
4. After 1 minute, the teacher should indicate that it is time for the other student in each paired group to talk.
5. The other half of the pair then shares everything that they know about the Solar System by talking for 1 minute. They should try to share new information but are allowed to repeat facts their partner mentioned if need be.
6. As a group, the teacher should solicit one fact from each pair to share with the class. This brainstorming activity serves as the focus for the database lesson to follow.

Activity 3: Solar System Database
Using the Plants Database (planets.xls) downloaded from Exploring the Solar System, students will answer a series of questions related to the planets' size, composition, distance from the sun, and ability to support life. Each student should download the database and the planets questions.
1. Open the Planets Database using Open Office. Download the the Planets Database Questions (planets_questions.doc) worksheet. Open with Open Office.
2. Mrs. Carrier will demonstrate how to search and sort through the database.)
3. Take a few minutes to scroll through all database fields to become familiarize with the contents of the database.
4. You will be assigned one other student to work with. While answering questions in pairs, students should first answer a question independently on their individual computers. After completing each question, students should turn to their partner and explain how they found their answer. Pairs cannot proceed to the next question until both students agree upon a correct answer and procedure for obtaining that answer. If students disagree and cannot resolve the problem, the teacher should explain to the pair the proper procedure for answering the question.
5. Once agreement in answer and procedure is achieved, pairs will proceed to the next question. Enter the answers to the questions on your Planets Database Questions Document. This procedure should be followed until all questions are answered. The opportunity for both independent work and dialoguing will increase students' skill-base and ability to retain information.
6. Create a wiki page named: Solar System Database initials. Copy the information from the Open Office document and paste it on your page. Save the page.




Additional Resources
Orbits: Rotation and Revolution
Earth's Moon Phases
Earth's Moon and the Sun Cause Tides
Moon Exploration
Earth, Sun and Moon

- Know the following terms
  • Solar system
  • planet
  • gravity, % of earth's gravity
  • inertia
  • lithosphere
  • crust
  • resource
  • hydrosphere
  • atmosphere
  • Diameter, % of earth's diameter
  • orbit in Earth's years
  • rotation, rotation in Earth's days
  • revolution, revolution in earth's day
  • moon
  • order from the sun
  • composition
  • rings
  • eclipse (solar and lunar)
  • phases of moon (new, waxing crescent, first quarter waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter, waning crescent)
  • tide - spring and neap
  • scale model
  • equinox
  • seasons - summer, winter, spring fall.
  • Spreadsheet/Database - row, column, sort, chart
  • astronomical unit