Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Curriculum Corner: 8th Grade Space Lesson

Yesterday I walked into an 8th grade Science class and saw students mauling clay into round balls. In middle school one's first instinct when you see a student roll clay into the shape of a ball is to figure out where that students plans to launch it and try to head it off at the pass...

This day, however, Mrs. Ringrose, had assigned the students the task of molding this block of clay into the planets. The challenge was to create a solar system on a scale that matched the relative diameters and distances between each planet. Mrs. Ringrose describes the lesson below and check out the link to a slideshow of the students at work:

8th Grade Space Unit: Planet Creation

The 8th grade is beginning a unit on space by modeling the relative diameters and distances between the planets.

"We scaled down the size of the planets with play dough to put the planets in perspective to the human eye. - Walton

"We took 3 pounds of play dough and make all nine planets of the solar system.  We had precise measurements that we had to follow to make sure all the planets were the right size."  - Will

After we finished modeling the planets, we pulled up pictures of our models on the Smart Board and labeled the diameters of the planets in kilometers.  Most of the students were surprised by the vast differences they saw.
"I learned that the Earth was over 100 times smaller than Jupiter and that seemed mind-blowing because our Earth seems so large." -Jessica
"I thought it was cool to compare Pluto to Jupiter" - Brad
"I learned that Earth is very small compared to other planets (ex. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus).  I realized that each person is like a grain of sand when compared to our whole galaxy." -Mary Grace
"Saturn and Jupiter were a lot bigger than I expected." - David
"Mars was smaller than Earth when I thought it was bigger or the same size." - James B
"I learned that Jupiter is so gigantic compared to everything else.  I didn't realize that Earth was so small." - Sally
"Something interesting was that Neptune and Uranus were about the same model size." - Thomas
"The sizes ranged very far apart from about the size of a hand to the head of a pin." - Ross

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