Solar System Objects - An Intro to NGSS MS ESS1-3

In the Solar System Objects mini unit, students learn how to navigate the immense amount of information online using the three Rs: Relevant, Reliable, Reasonable. Then, they find good online information about the inner and outer planets, asteroids and comets in our solar system.

Students learn about the atmosphere, surface and interior of each planet as well interesting facts about our moon, comets and asteroids. Finally, students create a giant Venn diagram to compare and contrast two solar system objects. This is a great introduction to astronomy and the NGSS MS ESS1-3.

Extension activities include determining how humans could live on Mars!

Anchor Phenomenon Ideas: Engage your students in a debate about Pluto. Is Pluto a planet? Why or why not? Who decides the definition of a planet and does it even matter? This Science News for Kids article provides background information and Neil DeGrasse Tyson shares his opinion in this short video. As the debate continues, record other questions your students generate about our solar system and discuss answers to questions as kids learn more.

Would Earth be here without Jupiter? Take a look at this clip and discuss!

Tips and Tricks: Help students navigate through all of the misinformation online using the three Rs. Practice asking if the information you are reading online is Relevant, Reliable and Reasonable.

Share sites like NASA's Solar System Exploration and National Geographic's Our Solar System to help kids get started.

Extension Activity: Students are asked to create a map of a sustainable human community on Mars. Encourage kids to think through all the processes involved: How would you get water and food over a long period of time? How would you dispose of waste? How would you get materials to build a house? How could you get oxygen to breathe? To come up with solutions, students will need a good understanding of the environment on Mars as well as a big dose of creativity! This USA Today Article "Could Humans Live on Mars?" can provide some inspiration to begin.