Usually to introduce the unit I would some piece of literature: a poem or story. That is then followed up with a KWL chart. The KWL chart (KWL stands for What I Know, What I Want to Know, and What I Learned) is a graphic organizer that helps to track the learning process as we go through the unit. After the initial
What I Know
is filled in by the class students would then suggest what questions they have about the Sun. This would require the
What I Want To Know
column of the chart to be completed This list would be added to as the unit progresses and other questions arise. The class would add to the
What I Learned
column and at the end of the unit return to the questions we started with to see if they had been adequately answered. There is a strong possibility that students may ask a question that there is no answer for.
Lesson Plan #1 Light Can Be Absorbed
Objective: To show students that light is absorbed by objects, and that darker colored objects absorb more light than lighter colored objects.
Materials: 2 regular drinking glasses of the same size and shape,
black paper or cloth – enough to wrap around one of the glasses,
white paper or cloth – enough to wrap around one of the glasses,
water, and a thermometer
1. Wrap one glass with the black paper or cloth and the other glass with the white paper or cloth.
2. Fill each glass up with water.
3. Put both glasses in a shady part of the room for 30 minutes.
4. Take the temperature of the water in both glasses. The temperature should be the same.
5. Now put both glasses of water in sunlight and leave them there for 30 minutes.
6. Take the temperature of each glass of water. The glass wrapped in black should have a higher temperature because it absorbed more of the light than the glass wrapped in white. The absorbed light was transferred to the water. The light energy was changed into heat energy.
Lesson Plan #2 Examining Light From The Sun
Objective: Students will separate sunlight or white light into colors by using a glass prism.
Materials: a glass prism, and a piece of white paper
1. Place the prism in front of a light source or sunny window so that the light goes through and falls on the paper.
2. Students should record what they see. What colors do they see?
Students should see that the white light breaks up into the spectrum of colors that you would see in a rainbow. Each of the colors is traveling on a different wavelength. When the waves pass through the prism each one bends by a different amount resulting in the spread of colors. The longest waves (red) bend least and the shortest ones (violet) bend most.
Lesson Plan #3 The Expanding Universe
This lesson includes two parts. First as the balloon is blown up the growing size
of the balloon represents the expanding universe. However, this only shows
two dimensions of the process. Coupled with this should be another
demonstration using a raisin cake which illustrates the interior expansion of the
Objective: Students will see the way the universe expanded after the "Big Bang."
Materials: a balloon, some small beads, glue, and a marker
1. Glue some small beads on the balloon to represent galaxies. With the marker put on a wavy line with an arrow pointing toward the end of the balloon to represent radiation.
2. As the balloon is slowly blown up it begins to expand and the beads on the balloon will also begin to move away from each other in an even and outward direction. This shows that the galaxies are not expanding but space is. The radiation wave that you drew will become longer showing that energy levels decrease as the universe expands.
Part Two: To show what is theoretically happening within the balloon students will mix raisins into a cake batter. The assumption might be that the raisins would all clump together. However the nature of the medium that they are mixed in separates the raisins and distributes them throughout the cake. This is much like what happens to galaxies in the universe. They do not change or expand. The fabric of space is moving the galaxies.
The galaxies themselves are not moving.
Materials: cake batter, raisins, knife, spoon (unless you have access to an oven at your school you will have to have an already baked raisin cake or two to cut open and show to your students).
1. Mix up the batter. Predict what will happen when the raisin are added.
Will they mix in the batter or separate?
2. Add the raisins and bake the cake.
3. Cut the cake so students can see that the batter has expanded as it heated and it has distributed the raisins throughout the cake.
Lesson Plan #4 A Model of the Solar System
There are countless ways to make a model of the solar system. In fact, there is a web site devoted to just this enterprise. It also includes a calculator that will give you the dimensions for each planet based on the dimension that you enter for the Sun. This site is listed in the bibliography of web sites at the end of this paper.
Objective: students will construct a model to show how big the solar system is, how far apart the planets are from one another, and how much empty space there is out there.
Materials: two large rolls of toilet paper (at least 200 sheets each), place cards for each of the planets, a large outside area, or long hallway
1. 1 A.U. equals the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. In this example 1 A.U. will be 10 sheets of toilet paper. As a result Mercury would be on the 4th sheet; Venus would be on the 7th; Earth on the 10th sheet; Mars 15th; Jupiter 52nd, Saturn 96th; Uranus 192nd; Neptune 301st; and Pluto 394th.
2. Begin rolling out the toilet paper and have students mark the place where each planet will go. This is a good and easy method for students to experience in a tangible way a sense of the unimaginable size of the solar system. Have students record their impression in their science journals.
Lesson Plan # 5 Detecting a Magnetic Field
Objective: Students will be able to see a magnetic field and understand the forces that are around the Earth.
Materials: iron filings, spoon, 3 clear glasses or containers, 3 bar magnets, 2 horseshoe magnets, plastic wrap, clear or light syrup, string, pencil
1. Pour a spoonful of iron filings into a jar of syrup. Stir well, and evenly pour some into 2 clear glass or plastic containers
2. Place 2 bar magnets under one container- 2 horseshoe magnets on the outside on opposite sides of the other container.
3. Fill the 3rd container with the mixture and wrap the bar magnet in clear plastic wrap. Tie it with string to the pencil and hang it in the container. Patterns should form that outline the magnets' magnetic fields showing the forces keeping each of the pairs of magnets away from each other.