SCM 2015
Our Solar System

Lesson 2: The planets − let's find out more

Introduction

In this lesson, students will begin to focus on specific planets within our Solar System. They will select (or be allocated) a planet and research to find out more about it. They will present this information to the class and add it to a class Solar System mural or poster.

Broad learning outcomes

  • Students will activate their prior knowledge about planets.

  • Students will select a planet and research to find out more about it.

  • Students will learn the importance of summarising and paraphrasing and how to reference sources of information.

  • Students will assess the reliability and validity of various resources (print and online).

Resources

  • "Planet match" activity cards (one set per pair of students)

  • "Planet KWL" activity sheet

  • "Pick a planet" activity sheet

  • Computers with internet access

  • Books/resources about planets and the Solar System

Assessment options

  • "Planet match" activity

  • Planet oral presentations

Lesson Steps

To investigate and activate students' prior knowledge about planets, have them complete (in pairs or small groups) the "Planet match" activity

Conduct a class discussion about the planets within our Solar System. If you completed the "How big is our Solar System" activity in lesson one, you can use this as a starting point. Record all ideas. This can be done on the "Planet KWL" activity sheet.

Ask students to consider:

  • The number of planets in our Solar System.

  • The position/order of the planets in our Solar System.

  • The composition of each planet.

  • Which planets are located closest to Earth? Which are far away?

  • How the planets are similar and different.

Please note: although Pluto was originally considered to be a planet, in the past 15 years astronomers have discovered that it is only one of many bodies of similar size (and smaller) making up the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune. As a result, in 2006, astronomers come up with a new definition of what makes something a 'planet' and this meant that Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'. This could be explored further with students.

In small groups, students to research one planet in more depth. Students can select their own planet or it can be allocated via a "lucky dip" system, but all planets should be researched. There are guiding research questions and suggested websites on the "Pick a planet" activity sheet, but using this is optional. Students can also use the information in the Student section. Encourage students to record their sources of information and to ensure that they are reliable and valid. Students should also attempt to put information into their own words.

Each group should present their information to the rest of the class, then add it to a class information wall, mural or poster.