For use in grades 6, 7, or 8 to meet astronomy and earth science standards; integration with mathematics, history, and technology.
This semester of science focuses on a linear exploration of our universe. Students begin by exploring the history of astronomical thought, our current understanding of the universe, the structure of the solar system, and ending with a study of our home planet, Earth.
The goals of this semester of science are to introduce students to astronomy and earth science through their origins, thereby making the curriculum relevant and meaningful for students.
Guiding question: How do science and mathematics impact society, culture, and progress?
Through a study of the historical, mathematical, astronomical, geological, and physical aspects of our understanding of the origins of the universe, movement within our solar system, the characteristics of the planets in our solar system, and the unique characteristics of planet earth, students will understand the interconnectedness of all subjects and their impact on our understanding of ourselves.
Below is a general overview of the order in which I like to arrange these lessons. However, the lessons are fairly stand-alone and can be supplemented with additional materials or used independently of the entire unit. The general sequence is: the history or astronomy; understanding the geocentric solar system; the scientific revolution; understanding the heliocentric solar system; classical mechanics; understanding the universe; understanding our solar system.
| Lesson Title||Lesson ||Time Required||Subject |
|Introduction to a Tour of the Universe||1 ||45 minutes|| History of Science (HoS)|
|Aristotle and Ptolemy: Trying to make a geocentric model work||2||30 minutes|| HoS|
|Retrograde Motion Activity||3||45 minutes||Astronomy, Earth Science|
|The Renaissance and Leonardo da Vinci||4||45-60 minutes||HoS, Engineering, Arts|
|Nicolaus Copernicus: Proposing a Geocentric Solar System||5 ||45 minutes || HoS, Astronomy|
|Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo A Burst of Ideas||6a||30 minutes||HoS, Astronomy |
| Ellipses||6b (optional)||30 minutes ||Math, Astronomy |
|The Universe and Planetary Motion ||7a|| 45 minutes||HoS, Astronomy, Physics, Earth Science|
|Centripetal Motion||7b (optional) ||45 minutes ||Physics, Earth Science, Astronomy|
|Centripetal Motion Cont'd (There is an impressionistic version and a physics-based version of this lesson)||7c|
|30-60 minutes||Physics, Earth Science|
|Movement of Earth in the Solar System||8||20 minutes (+ 30 minutes for Lab)||Astronomy, Earth Science|
|Magnitude of the Solar System||9a (optional)||30 minutes||Math|
|Magnitude of the Solar System||9b ||45-60 minutes ||Astronomy, Math|
|The Sun||10||30 minutes||Astronomy|
|The Terrestrial Planets (ex. Earth)||11 ||30-45 minutes ||Astronomy |
|Earth and the Phases of the Moon||12 ||30-45 minutes ||Astronomy, Earth Science |
|Eratosthenes and Measuring the Earth||12b ||30-45 minutes ||Astronomy, Earth Science Math, HoS|
|The Gas Giants ||13 ||30-45 minutes ||Astronomy |
|Introduction to Motion ||14 ||30-45 minutes ||Physics |
|Newton & Universal Law of Gravitation ||15 ||30-45 minutes ||Physics, Earth Science, Astronomy|
|Newton's First Two Laws of Motion ||16 ||30-45 minutes||Physics, Earth Science |
|Newton's Third Law of Motion|
& Space Rockets
|17a||30-45 minutes||Physics, Earth Science, Astronomy |
|Bottle Rockets ||17b (optional)||30 min. - 2 hours ||Physics, Earth Science, Engineering |
|Earth's Atmosphere ||18 ||30-45 minutes ||Earth Science|
|The Space Program and Current Exploration ||19 ||30-45 minutes ||Earth Science, Astronomy |
|The Search for Extraterrestrial Life ||20 ||30-45 minutes||Earth Science, Astronomy |
- Students will be able to explain and provide evidence for the motion of the planet, the seasonal changes of the planet and the composition of the atmosphere, and will be able to distinguish and find relationships between explanation and evidence for each. [National Science Education Standards Chapter 6 (NSES) A]
- Students will show they understand the role of Earth in the solar system, the distinctions between Earth and the other planets, and the role of the sun in the solar system. [NSES C]
- Students will experience the role of technology on our understanding of the solar system and the movement of the planets through video footage, images, and the role of telescopes on our understanding of astronomy. [NSES F]
- Students will demonstrate their understanding of the history of astronomy and meteorology, as we know it today. [NSES G]
- Students will differentiate between historical facts and historical interpretations. [National Standards for History Basic Edition – Historical Thinking Standards, 1996 (NSH – HTS) 2]
- Students will consider multiple perspectives and compare and contrast differing sets of ideas. [NSH – HTS 3]
- Students will gather and analyze evidence of antecedent circumstances, identify relevant historical antecedents, and formulate a position or course of action in an issue of the scientific revolution. [NSH – HTS 5]
- Students will be able to explain and provide evidence for the layers of the earth system, and will be able to distinguish and find relationships between explanation and evidence for each. [NSES A]
- Students will show they understand the role of each Earth layer in the Earth System [NSES C]
- Students will understand the Newtonian Laws of physics that govern classical mechanics and the affect of gravity as a universal force. [NSES B]
- Students will describe the role of technology in our understanding of the systems on Earth. [NSES F]
- Students will describe the contribution of mathematics to the scientific revolution. [NCTM Principles and Standards for School Mathematics – Connections]
Goals for students...
- To understand the history of the scientific revolution and current space exploration
- To understand current astronomical thinking about our universe and the solar system
- To understand the conditions that favor life on this planet
- To understand the conditions that prevent life on other planets in our solar system
- To understand the magnitude of distance in space and express that magnitude accurately