SCM 2015
Our Solar System

Lesson 3: The planets − how do they compare?


In this lesson, students will use what they discovered in lesson 2 to discuss, contrast and compare the planets within our Solar System.

Broad learning outcomes

  • Students will consider what makes planets similar and different.

  • Students will sort and classify planets according to identified properties.

  • Students will effectively communicate their knowledge about a planet.

  • Planet research from lesson 2

  • "Planet pictures" activity sheet

  • "Planet Venn diagram" activity sheet

  • "Planet tri-Venn diagram" activity sheet

  • "Planet match assessment" activity sheet

  • Observation of group discussions

  • Recorded data from group discussions (using Venn diagram, tri-Venn diagram, or planet pictures)

  • "Planet match assessment" activity sheet

Lesson steps

In small groups, students will compare and contrast planets using the information they gathered in lesson 2. There are several ways to group students for this activity:

  • Use the same groups as in lesson 2 and ask them to find planets that are similar or different to the one they have researched.

  • Group students so that each group has a variety of "planet experts" in it (i.e. a group of four should comprise students who each researched a different planet in lesson 2).

  • In their groups, ask students to focus on one, or a few, specific elements of their planets (e.g. temperature, composition, appearance etc.) and discuss the similarities and differences.

Three options have been provided to assist students to record their thinking. The "Planet Venn diagram" activity sheet and the "Planet tri-Venn diagram" activity sheet allows students to compare and contrast two or three different planets. Alternatively, the pictures on the "Planet pictures" activity sheet can be cut out and grouped in many different ways.

Groups should be encouraged to share their ideas.

Some ideas for classification and comparison include:

  • size

  • weight

  • distance from sun

  • composition (e.g. rock, gas, ice)

  • visual appearance

  • presence of moons

  • orbit and rotation times

  • date discovered

Students to complete the "Planet match assessment" activity sheet. This sheet is an extension of the "Planet match" cards activity completed in lesson 2.