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In class, there are limitations when using models or visuals about space. What are some ways to make learning about the planets, sun, earth, and stars more concrete and real?
2360 Activity Points
Here is a link to an NSTA Collection about the Solar System. I think it has some material in it that will be of help to you. http://learningcenter.nsta.org/my_learning_center/my_library.aspx?cid=jmS9fCkLOJk_E Good luck.
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What grade do you teach? I totally understand the limitations of models and visuals but the reality is that is really all we have when it comes to teaching about space. What I find to be powerful for my students and still always blows my mind is creating scale models. It really helps to put things into perspective and it's a great way to integrate math. Khan Academy has some great tutorials on the scale of things in space...but again it depends on what grade you teach.
However, don't underestimate the power of a model, visual or interactive game (NASA has some pretty neat ones), my daughter is in Kindergarten and can tell me more about space, than she can her own classmates and her day.
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Yes, models are helpful but often hard for even adults to understand scale when looking at the dimensions of earth, solar system and our galaxy.
Amy I see from your profile you are a k-6 science resource teacher so it would be good to think of primary and upper elementary students and their understanding of models
You might want to ask questions about our distance from the moon and sun first. Get their ideas about which is bigger, closer and why they think that. Have them make their own models to reflect their ideas and then as you continue have them refine models to reflect new information
I am thinking of how models were presented in the NGSS web seminar about Developing and Using Models
I found this web seminar inspiring !
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
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Just noticed that many good suggestions were posted regarding your forum about Earth Sun and Moon http://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?tid=CvrZTbvnot4_
I had never heard of the videos on Khan Academy, until I looked at your compilation of websites. I teach third grade, so the information through the videos might be advanced for many, but they are very short and use great models to explain. After we loose our subscription to NSTA, this Khan website will come in handy for me to relearn concepts.
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Here is a link to a model distances in our solar system using only a roll of toilet paper. I have done this in the past and the kids love it! It also gives a great visual on just how far objects are apart in our solar system - check it out and see if it is something that might work for you.
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[url=http://nasawavelength.org/]NEW NASA ONLINE SCIENCE RESOURCE AVAILABLE FOR EDUCATORS AND STUDENTS[/url]
WASHINGTON -- NASA has a new online science resource for teachers and students to help bring Earth, the solar system, and the universe into their schools and homes.
Called [url=http://nasawavelength.org/]NASA Wavelength, [/url]the site features HUNDREDS OF RESOURCES ORGANIZED BY TOPIC AND AUDIENCE LEVEL FROM ELEMENTARY TO COLLEGE, AND OUT-OF-SCHOOL PROGRAMS THAT SPAN THE EXTENT OF NASA SCIENCE. Educators at all levels can locate educational resources through information on educational standards, subjects and keywords and other relevant details, such as learning time required to carry out a lesson or an activity, cost of materials and more.
"NASA Wavelength not only lets users find nearly everything they want to know about NASA science, but it also allows them to provide direct feedback to NASA to enhance our products," said Stephanie Stockman, education lead for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. "This truly is a living, digital library of resources that will allow educators to find and share the best of NASA science education resources to advance their teaching."
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NASA's Science Mission Directorate seeks new knowledge and understanding of Earth, the sun, solar system and the universe from the vantage point of space. The directorate also constantly looks for inventive ways to reach out to the public using museums, classrooms, science centers and home schools.
For access to NASA Wavelength, visit:
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Thank you so much for posting the links to the NASA site! I just found the site last week and did not realize the wealth of information and tools that are there for educators. I think there is a movement to bring educators the awareness that curriculum has been developed for more than Aeronautical type education by NASA. I know that Earth Science is a curriculum that is being developed to education students about global warming. NASA is using satellites to gather information about ice caps melting and about other natural phenomena. It's very exciting to benefit from the advancements in technology!
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Thank you! I agree with your observations about NASA's websites providing so much more than strictly "aeronautical" information. One of my favorite lessons for eighth graders is when we study Newton's Laws and I tie in the "Toys in Space" video clips.
Students know how toys react on earth and predict how they will respond while in space. YouTube has snippets of the experiment videos. I always play at least one of the original NASA clips - as I find it important for them to actually hear the astronaut process and analyze the toy's movements. You will find excellent teaching suggestions and further video clips on the NASA site.
I'm attaching an activity sheet that I use with the "Toys in Space" lesson. When I have smaller class sizes I have students invent a toy and film themselves demonstrating how it operates/moves while utilizing the vocabulary from Newton's Laws.
Enjoy & please share the ideas you are implementing!
Toys_in_Space__NASA_Extension.doc (0.67 Mb)
I received my http://neon.psu.edu/webinars/' target="_blank">http://neon.psu.edu/webinars/" target="_blank">"NASA Education" email recently and wanted to share highlights with all of you! http://neon.psu.edu/webinars/' target="_blank">http://neon.psu.edu/webinars/" target="_blank">Nasa Educators Online Network is one of the many free sites that support educators at all levels of learning. If you aren't on their email list, consider adding your name! You will be delighted with the choice of free webseminars, materials and lesson updates/highlights they send their readers.
Free Education Webinar Series from the Aerospace Education Services Project
The Aerospace Education Services Project is presenting a series of free webinars throughout December 2012. All webinars can be accessed online. Join aerospace education specialists to learn about activities, lesson plans, educator guides and resources to bring NASA into your classroom.
[b]Robotics on a Budget (Grades 5-12)
Nov. 28, 2012, 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. EST[/b]
Aerospace education specialist Steve Culivan will explore how to use robotics to enhance your students' understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. Participants will also learn about NASA STEM robotics missions, curriculum and activities that are available.
Let us all know what you think of the site and materials!
Enjoy your day, Alyce
Please find attached a small collection of interactive astronomy applets
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The "Earth, Sun, and Moon" Sci pack has some good activities. I also have done this activity in class.
One student will be the Earth, one will be the Moon and one will be the Sun. The Sun will hold a flashlight, the Earth will stand in a fixed position and the Moon will hold a volleyball and orbit the Earth in a counterclockwise motion. The teacher will dim the lights and the Sun will shine the flashlight at the volleyball. The student who is the Earth will sketch a picture of the illuminated portion of Moon (volleyball) as the student orbits the Earth. The students will take turns in each role.
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I completely agree with you! It is quite difficult to make learning about space more concrete for the students. I found that videos really help students visualize more of what is happening out there in space. However, I make my students do certain kinesthetic activities that allow them to personally and physically experience what is going on.
I teach fifth grade and one of our standards include how day and night are caused by the rotation of the Earth on its axis. Because I have created learning groups in my classroom, I have each group act it out. One person would stand in the middle as the sun with a flashlight and another person holding a styrofoam ball with a stick. This person shows how the Earth is tilted on its axis. The "Earth" will go around the sun, slowly rotating itself on its axis while the sun just continues to shine its light on the Earth. The other students in the group record observations of how light it shine on certain parts of the Earth. As a group, they come up with a conclusion based on their observations.
Through manipulatives, visual aids, and kinesthetic learning activities, I know students can gain a more concrete learning of concepts that cannot exactly be available at hand. I thought the toilet paper activity that was given was a great idea without having to purchase expensive materials or physically measure lengths.
I am on my second year teaching and I am still learning the ropes of how to teach science efficiently and effectively. Therefore, I am glad you posed this question because the responses also help me! Good luck!
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I agree also that teaching students to about space can be challenging when as a teacher you want to give them a true visualization of space in the classrooms through models. This was my first year teaching space in my 8th grade class and the activity that I found useful was the creating your own solar system model that Tabitha had mentioned in earlier. In this demonstration, I assigned the students planets and their satellites and proceeded to spread them out in P.E. field using yarn and a measure tape reel. After the activity, the students had a better perspective of the distance of the planets and how that relates to their orbital period around the sun.
I have also done the moon demo that you listed earlier Vera. The only challenge that I encountered was trying to get the room dark enough so that they could see the shadow on the styrofoam "moon"
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I agree Space Science is difficult to represent for students. It is interesting how they view themselves in their tiny "community bubble," but it is fun to have students think about them in their town of their county of their state of their region of their country of their hemisphere of their planet of their galaxy, etc. Even talking about other planets is hard because I think students sometimes are too informed by science fiction and assuming that other planets are not like ours or much, much different. I love that they are getting "informed," but at the same time, I am so ill-inform because of our own lack of knowledge...
I was so excited for the Mars Rover and the footage provided--the 7 Minutes of Terror proved to be a great attention-getter. It gave me an awesome topic to start my class with because it is something so new. Most students were excited to learn about it, but again I had to remind them that it was real and actually happening. They are so used to seeing high-def movies that seeing a fuzzy picture was ancient to them! I think starting off the unit with a topic that NASA is working on to make it relevant to today makes a huge difference, especially since the students can research it easily. Space Science is such a great way to show how important it is to discover because there is so much unknown still!
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I had students use toilet paper to stimulate the distance between the planets.
You can also use fruit to show the relative sizes of the planets in comparison to one another.
Hope that helps!
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