# Forces of Nature: Using Earth and Planetary Science for Teaching Physical Science

## CONTENTS OF CURRICULUM UNIT 08.05.05

## La Tierra en el Sistema Solar / Earth in the Solar System

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## Lessons

In the first week of this unit, students will be introduced to the solar system and the relative sizes and locations of the planets. They will discover, through experiments and demonstrations the structure of the solar system. The second week is dedicated to studying each planet a little more closely. Students will learn facts and interesting features about each planet. The third and final week contains the culminating project, the overall objective of the entire unit. In the last week, the students will compare earth to another planet. They will study another planet in greater detail and discover in what ways it is similar and in what ways it is distinct from Earth. In this way, each student will walk away with a better understanding of how we, on Earth, connect with the rest of the solar system.

### Week 1

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Day 1: Introduction to the solar system
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To be introduced to our solar system, the teacher will use several big books to give information and show images about the solar system. Students will name and spell all the planets in order. Students will then fill in a blackline of the solar system, labeling each planet.

Table 1: Important Vocabulary

- Planeta-planet
- Sistema solar- solar system
- Sol-sun
- Esfera-sphere
- Mercurio- Mercury
- Venus- Venus
- La tierra-Earth
- Marte- Mars
- Júpiter-Jupiter
- Saturno-Saturn
- Uranio-Uranus
- Neptuno-Neptune

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Day 2: Structure of the solar system: Planets distances from the Sun
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The teacher will have a large pre-made picture model of the solar system that shows the correct relative distances of all the planets from the sun (sizes of planets may not be to scale). As a whole class, students and teacher will use a ruler to measure the distance of each planet from the sun in centimeters or millimeters. This information will be written on a chart and analyzed after all distances have been measured. Students will be asked which planets are close together and which are very far apart. Students will be asked if earth is far from the sun compared to the other planets.

After analyzing the data, the whole class will go outside to create a larger model of the planets distances from the sun. There will be 8 pre-cut pieces of string (probably larger than the paper model by a power of 10) that will each represent the distance of one planet from the sun. Student volunteers will use the strings to position themselves on the field to represent the planets. This exercise will give the students the understanding of just how far some planets are from the sun and how much distance there is between planets.

Table 2: Important Vocabulary

- Distancia-distance
- Centímetros-centimeters
- Milímetro-millimeters
- Lejos-far
- Cerca-close
- A qué distancia-how far
- Cuánta distancia hay-how much distance is there

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Day 3: Planet sizes
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On the third day of the unit, students will compare the sizes of the planets. The teacher will have cut out circles made to scale to represent the planets. The circles will be white without writing. Students will use what they already know to try to guess which circle represents which planet. After naming the planets, the class and teacher will measure each planet and write the data on chart paper. After measuring all the “planets”, the class will analyze the data to compare the other planets to earth.

Students will then work in pairs to guess how many planet earths will fit into the larger planets (Neptune, Saturn, Uranus and Jupiter). The class will then make/cut out many circles to represent earth and place them inside each planet to find out how many earths fit inside these planets. The class will then review the predictions made beforehand. This lesson is intended to facilitate understanding of the immense size of the planets, as well as the difference in size among planets.

Table 3: Important Vocabulary

- Tama–o-size
- Cuántos-how many
- Caben-fit
- Dentro-inside
- Peque–o-small

Mediano-medium - Grande-big
- Gigante-huge

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Day 4: The orbits of the planets
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On this day, students will revisit the paper model of the solar system, previously used on day 1. The teacher will present the information using the paper as a model that the planets orbit around the sun in an elliptical, which is like the shape of an oval. The class will then go out to the field and use the strings from day 2 to imitate the planets’ orbits around the sun.

Table 4: Important Vocabulary

- Girar-revolve
- Orbitar-orbit
- Elíptico-elliptical
- ”valo-oval
- Alrededor-around

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Day 5: Orbit and rotation
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In order to compare the length of time on other planets to that of Earth, the class will create a chart that displays how many days comprise a year and how many hours comprise a day for each planet.

The class will then use a website to calculate their ages on other planets. The following are several possible options.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/age/index.html

http://www.solarviews.com/eng/edu/age.htm

http://www.schoolsobservatory.org.uk/astro/solsys/age.shtml

http://mistupid.com/astronomy/ageonplanets.htm

http://www.geody.com/spaceage.php

http://www.morebirthdays.com/

Table 5: Important vocabulary

- Cumplea–os-birthday
- A–o-year
- Día-day
- Horas-hours
- Tiempo-time