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Objectives
Lesson Overview
Materials/Resources
Background Information
Developing the Lesson
Closure
Evaluation


Module 4 - Lesson 5

Moons of the Solar System

Module 4: The Planets

 

Timeframe:

Two class periods (~50 minutes each)

 

Objectives:

Pan-Canadian Curriculum Objectives:

110-6
explain the need for new evidence in order to continually test Existing theories (e.g., explain the need for new evidence obtained from space-based telescopes and close-up observations by satellites, which can reinforce, adjust, or reject Existing inferences based on observations from Earth)

312-1
describe theories on the formation of the solar system

312-3
describe theories on the origin and evolution of the universe

312-5
describe the composition and characteristics of the components of the solar system

 

Lesson Overview:

The students should be able to recognize that the Earth is not the only planet with an orbiting moon; in fact, they should realize that the Moon is but one of over 100 currently known planetary satellites in our solar system (they should also gain an understanding of the definition of a moon and a satellite). Using prior knowledge of the Earth’s Moon, the students should be able to recognize defining characteristics of several planetary satellites and be able to compare and contrast these with each other and with our own Moon. These characteristics can include appearance (size, shape, surface features, presence or absence of an atmosphere), composition and specific orbital characteristics. In doing so, they should have a clear understanding of the differences between planets and their moons, although this specific knowledge will not be covered directly.

 

Materials and Resources:

  1. Class Debate Rubric
  2. Planet Quick Fact Data Sheets

 

Vocabulary:

    • satellite

 

Background Information:

The students should be able to recognize that the Earth is not the only planet with an orbiting moon; in fact, they should realize that the Moon is but one of over 100 currently known planetary satellites in our solar system (they should also gain an understanding for the definition of a moon and a satellite). Using prior knowledge of the Earth’s Moon, the students should be able to recognize defining characteristics of several planetary satellites and be able to compare and contrast these with each other and with our own Moon. These characteristics can include appearance (size, shape, surface features, presence or absence of an atmosphere), composition and specific orbital characteristics. In doing so, they should have a clear understanding of the differences between planets and their moons, although this specific knowledge will not be covered directly.

 

Developing the Lesson:

 

Introduction / Sharing Purpose:

Begin the class by talking about the Earth’s Moon. Ask students to give characteristics of the Moon and write them on the board. Ask the students if they can define a natural satellite (a body in orbit around a planet); they should then be asked if there are moons (satellites) in orbit around other planets, which they should already know. Ask the students to list which planets have their own satellites, and if possible, name any of the planetary moons.

Let the class know they will be researching characteristics of various moons in our solar system, and that a brief presentation outlining these characteristics will be given in the next science class.

Ensure that all students have a copy of the Class Debate Rubric so that they know what is expected of them during the research and debate.

Set / Hands-on Activity:

Bring in images of some of the more interesting planetary satellites (Io, Europa, Titan, Mimas) and some of the smaller and irregular asteroid-like moons (Phobos, the inner Jovian satellites). Ask the students to list off any visual characteristics of the satellites by looking at the images. Ask for similarities and differences, comparing the moons to each other as well as to our Moon. Allow the images to circulate around the room and have the students record their observations of the satellites in their notebooks.

Input & Modeling:

Present several planetary satellites of the solar system to the class, giving only a brief overview of each moon. Put the class into groups of two or three (this could be independently or by the teacher), and ask each group to pick a particular moon to investigate, in order to present the characteristics of that moon to the class during the next period. Good choices to give to the students (the number depends on the number of students in the class), would be the Moon (Earth), Phobos (Mars), the four Galilean satellites and possibly Amalthea (Jupiter), Titan, Mimas, Enceladus, and possibly Pan (Saturn), Titania and possibly Miranda (Uranus), Triton (Neptune) and Charon (Pluto). These satellites all offer a nice range of interesting characteristics.

Allow the students to research their own satellites for the remainder of the first period. Remind them that they will be giving a brief presentation (a couple minutes) to the class during the next class period. Whatever research is incomplete after the first class must be done on their own time.

In the second class period, allow the students 2 to 3 minutes each to present their planetary satellite to the class. With about 25 students in the class, this should take about half an hour (some satellites would require very little time to present).

The students could be asked to record for themselves the most interesting characteristic about the satellites after each presentation. This sheet could be generated for the students, with the satellite name followed by a blank line for the students to fill in a single fact about each satellite. Ask the students to include the sheet in their notebooks.

Check for Understanding:

After the presentations, verbal questions can be given to the class regarding planetary satellites of our solar system. The students should be asked to name a moon by a given characteristic (“Which moon is the most volcanically active body in the solar system?”), or students who may be quiet and not respond could be asked which moon they found the most interesting and why.

Independent Practice:

Students' sheet listing the most interesting characteristic about each satellite could be used as independent practice. Another option would be to give out a worksheet which allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of the satellites. There are many different formats that could be used for this worksheet (fill in the blank is one example).

 

Closure:

The students could be asked to write a brief paragraph about their favourite or most interesting satellite, explaining why. This could be used as a cross-curricular exercise, with students writing a creative story about the satellite of their choice, telling what it would be like to be on the surface of that particular moon. A drawing could also accompany the story.

 

Extension:

After completing the activity, the teacher will re-assemble the class to pose two questions:

  1. Could any of the moons in the solar system be candidates for hosting life?
  2. Could humans ever potentially live on one?

A five minute discussion should follow.

 

Evaluation:

Participation in the group research assignment could be assessed, as well as the group’s presentation. The students’ notebooks could be assessed, as well as the creative story, although this story should be assessed in Language Arts rather than in Science.

 

Teacher Reflections:

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