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Grade: Elementary
Subject: Science

#2460. Planets an Introduction

Science, level: Elementary
Posted Fri Jan 11 20:50:21 PST 2002 by Melanie Natal-Lewis (
St. Tammany Parish Schools, Slidell, LA USA
Materials Required: Computers with Internet and Data Base Program
Activity Time: 2 class periods
Concepts Taught: Data Base

NAME: Melanie Natal-Lewis
CURRICULUM AREAS: Science and Math
LENGTH OF LESSON: approximately 2 class periods
OVERVIEW: There are nine planets in our solar system. Each planet has its own unique features. In this lesson the students will investigate one planet, enter information into a database, print the database sorting for each of the attributes, and determine if their estimates and predictions were correct.

1. Basic operations and concepts
o Students demonstrate a sound understanding of the nature and operation of technology systems.
o Students are proficient in the use of technology.
2. Social, ethical, and human issues
o Students practice responsible use of technology systems, information, and software.
o Students develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity.
3. Technology productivity tools
o Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.
o Students use productivity tools to collaborate in constructing technology-enhanced models, prepare publications, and produce other creative works.
4. Technology communications tools
o Students use telecommunications to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences.
o Students use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences.
5. Technology research tools.
o Students use technology tools to process data and report results.
6. Technology problem-solving and decision-making tools
o Students use technology resources for solving problems and making informed decisions.
o Students employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world.

In problem-solving investigations, students demonstrate an understanding of the real number system and communicate the relationships within that system using a variety of techniques and tools.

Students in Grades K-4 use estimation, mental arithmetic, number lines, graphs, appropriate models, manipulatives, calculators, and computers as they investigate problems involving whole numbers. As a result, what they know and are able to do includes: constructing number meaning and demonstrating that a number can be expressed in many different forms (e.g., standard notation, number words, number lines, geometrical representation, fractions, and decimals);demonstrating number sense and estimation skills, giving particular attention to common equivalent reference points (i.e., 1/4 = 25% = .25; = 50% = .5; $1 =100%, etc.) reading, writing, representing, comparing, ordering, and using whole numbers in a variety of forms (e.g., standard notation, number line, and geometrical representation;(1, 4)

N-4-E demonstrating a conceptual understanding of the meaning of the basic arithmetic
operations (add, subtract, multiply, and divide) and their relationships to each other; constructing, using, and explaining procedures to compute and estimate with whole numbers (e.g., mental math strategies)demonstrating the connection of number and number relations to the other strands and to real-life situations.

In problem-solving investigations, students demonstrate an understanding of the concepts, processes, and real-life applications of measurement.

M-1-E applying (measure or solve measurement problem) the concepts of length (inches, feet, yards, miles, millimeters, centimeters, decimeters, meters, kilometers), area, volume, capacity (cups, liquid pints and quarts, gallons, milliliters, liters), weight (ounces, pounds, tons, grams, kilograms), mass, time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years), money, and temperature (Celsius and Fahrenheit) to real world experiences;
M-3-E using estimation skills to describe, order, and compare measures of length, capacity, weight/mass, time, and temperature;

In problem-solving investigations, students demonstrate an understanding of geometric concepts and applications involving one-, two-, and three-dimensional geometry, and justify their findings.

G-3-E making predictions regarding combinations, subdivisions, and transformations
(slides, flips, turns) of simple plane geometric shapes;
(1, 2, 4)
In problem-solving investigations, students discover trends, formulate conjectures regarding cause-and-effect relationships, and demonstrate critical thinking skills in order to make informed decisions.

D-2-E constructing, reading, and interpreting data in charts, graphs, tables, etc;
D-3-E formulating and solving problems that involve the use of data;

The students will do science by engaging in partial and full inquiries that are within their developmental capabilities.


SI-E-A4 employing equipment and tools to gather data and extend the sensory
SI-E-A5 using data, including numbers and graphs, to explain observations and

v The students will work in pairs to investigate their particular planet.
v The students will extrapolate information in order to determine if their estimates and predictions are accurate.

v The students will predict answers to six questions.
v The students will estimate the size of planets from smallest to largest.
v The students will demonstrate their understanding of Internet, Access and Word.
v The students will analyze the information collected by their classmates.

v The students will print reports of the database sorted to answer each of the questions. (10 points each)
v The students will answer all questions correctly for Number 4 on the handout. (7 points each)

v There will be one computer per student. Each group will produce six reports.
v The students will use the Internet and Database Access.

v The students should have a good working knowledge of both programs.
v The students should know how to gather information from the Internet.

1. Students will work cooperatively in pairs.
2. Students will estimate the sizes of the planets and list them in order of size.
3. Students will predict answers to six questions.
4. Each pair will gather information from the Internet on their planet using the Hotlist prepared by the teacher.
5. Each pair will enter information into the database on the teacher computer.
6. The teacher will save the document to the server. Students will then open the database on their computer from the server.
7. Each student pair will hand in six database reports and their worksheet with all questions answered.

v The students can take information from the database and insert it into an Excel Spreadsheet and generate graphs.
v The students can construct a scale model of the solar system on the playground.

This was an excellent introductory lesson for the planets. Many of the students could not name the nine planets in order. Many had little idea of the size of each planet. The students enjoyed the lesson and said it was time well spent.

The students had no trouble locating the information for their planet. Using the Hotlist was certainly the best choice for this lesson. Some of the students experienced difficulty in skimming and scanning the sites. They wanted to read every word rather than skimming for particular information.

Use the following Student Directions

1. View the sites that can be found on The Nine Planet Hotlist created by this teacher. Estimate the size of the planets in square miles from largest to smallest. List the planets in order of size. es/listthenineme.html
a. The planets: List them here6
i. Earth
ii. Jupiter
iii. Mars
iv. Mercury
v. Neptune
vi. Pluto
vii. Saturn
viii. Uranus
ix. Venus

2. Predict the following from your observations of the above web sites.

a. The largest planet in size is__________.
b. The smallest planet is__________.
c. The planet closest to the sun is__________.
d. The planet farthest from the sun is__________.
e. The planet with the most moons is__________.
f. The planet closest to Earth is__________.

3. Each pair of students has been assigned a planet. Go to a site on your planet from the Hotlist ( answer the following questions. After you have the information, insert your answers in the database on the teacher computer. The teacher will place the completed file on the server so that you can open it from your computer in Excel.

a. Distance from the sun
b. Diameter
c. Length of year (Earth Days)
d. Temperature
a. Highest
b. Lowest
e. Number of moons
4. Open Excel and open the [nine_planets] file from the server. Do the following to determine the exactness of your predictions. Print reports from your database. You will have six reports printed.
q Sort by distance from the sun.
q Sort by size.
q Sort by length of year.
q Sort by high temperature.
q Sort by low temperature.
q Sort by number of moons.