Solar System

SciGuide

SciGuides are a collection of thematically aligned lesson plans, simulations, and web-based resources for teachers to use with their students centered on standards-aligned science concepts.

A solar system consists of at least one central star (in our case, the Sun) and other solar system objects (e.g., planets, moons, comets, asteroids, meteoroids) of different sizes and shapes, all of which are held in a system around the Sun. Stars and their solar systems are further held together in galaxies. Our own galaxy, known as the Milky Way, has over 100 billion stars, and we are only beginning to identify other solar systems in the Milky Way. For millennia, humans from every culture, ancient and modern, have searched the heavens, attempting to understand our place in the vastness of space. Through time, we have learned that Earth and other planets, their moons, dwarf planets, and a multitude of comets, asteroids, meteors, and other small bodies orbit the Sun. We also now know that the Sun’s influence stretches out about 100 times farther than the distance from the Sun to Earth. Beyond the limit of the Sun’s influence, lies the emptiness of interstellar space, which separates our solar system from those of other stars in our galaxy.

The more we explore with telescopes and with spacecraft loaded with ever more capable scientific instruments, the more we learn about our own solar system as well as others in our galaxy.

Grades
  • Middle

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Reviews (24)
  • on Fri Mar 09, 2018 6:04 PM

This SciGuide was very resourceful for creating lessons relating to Earth in Space, and the Solar System. I found the Solar System SciGuide map to be a great resource for my classroom. The SciGuide provided information geared to my middle school students and gave me ideas for lesson activities. Great source!!!

Kiku C
Kiku C

  • on Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:56 PM

This is an amazing resource to use and implement in any classroom. I falsely assumed this resource would be lengthy, hard to navigate, and not user friendly; however, I found the exact opposite to be true. This sciguide gave many useful lesson plans, visual simulations, and other resources for teachers to utilize when teaching about the solar system. I believe that this resource would be particularly useful for a unit in which the teacher is not completely confident with. This would be very helpful to review before teaching to ensure that you are supplying your students with the right information, in the best way possible. I definitely plan to use sciguides in the future. I believe they are a tool that helps ensure retention of information and engagement of students.

Maci Budzik  (Middleburg Hts., OH)
Maci Budzik (Middleburg Hts., OH)

  • on Thu Sep 18, 2014 4:21 AM

SciGuides are really fantastic. When it's time to teach this area, I can be confident knowing I'll have the Solar System SciGuide to go to for lesson plans, simulations, and web-based resources. I'll be able to create outstanding lessons in a shorter amount of time since many resources are easily accessible in this SciGuide.

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:53 PM

Contrary to my expectations, this SciGuide truly serves as an easy guide to the solar system. The descriptions itself are not filled with jargon. They are concise and to the point. In addition to descriptions of the many elements of the Solar System, this source provides prospective lesson plans about each topic, links, audio clips, and etc. All the materials to enhance the students learning are included in the Solar System SciGuide. This is something I would definitely recommend to teachers.

Hannah
Hannah

  • on Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:28 PM

I used this resource very successfully during my 2013 NASA Summer of Innovation summer school class! Loved the resource and the interactions! Also used in a Teacher Workshop prior to ALI'I!

James Johnson  (Custer City, PA)
James Johnson (Custer City, PA)

  • on Fri May 10, 2013 5:34 AM

This sciguide is great because not only does it provide you with a ton of learning materials for you and your students, but the simulations for orbits and explanation of how the universe and planets were formed helps to answer a lot of the questions that students ask. Another difficult task that i encountered when teaching this unit is the fact that a lot of students come into space science with a preconceived belief about creationism. This bunch is a bit more difficult to work with because they like to disregard facts in place of their beliefs, but because there is so much useful information that is engaging, even these students at least try to consider another theory outside of their original. I have also found that a lot of the students are closed off to their surroundings and find it hard to believe that aliens and other life forms may exist in another solar system. However, after they have learned about planet formation and other solar systems in the seemingly infinite galaxy, they begin to try and formulate reasons for or against this commonly posed question. I am really grateful to have access to these sciguides. It really helps teaching students outside of the textbook and the interactive portion keeps them moving and thinking.

Mitchell M
Mitchell M

  • on Tue May 07, 2013 1:55 AM

The Solar System SciGuide proved to be an incredibly beneficial resource for me. As a math teacher who only teaches one science class, my background isn't as strong as I'd like it to be. The Solar System SciGuide helped me supplement the information found in my classroom text and saved me countless hours of internet research by providing a centralized wealth of solar system information. The layout is easy to follow and provides relevant links and resources for many topics within the Solar System. Specifically, I appreciated the link called, "Our Solar System" under the grade 5-8 "How Did the Solar System Form" links tab. This incredible resource helped me facilitate a project entitled, "Create an Alien," which required students to create an alien who could live and thrive in the atmosphere and climate of their chosen planet. I can honestly say that my comfort level with the subject matter, and my level of confidence for teaching it, improved greatly the more often I utilized this SciGuide. I highly recommend this SciGuide to all Science teachers, both new and seasoned.

Christine M
Christine M

  • on Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:11 PM

The Solar System SciGuide is an excellent resource to increase your knowledge of the Solar System as well as implement learned concepts into your classroom. The SciGuide is organized into four themes: 1) A Look at the Planets; 2) Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites; 3) Earth in Space; and 4) Formation of our Solar System. This SciGuide provides resources for teachers and students to explore and learn about the Solar System. There are lesson plans that can be easily followed and integrated in the classroom. There are websites that provide simulations and media for students to better understand the Solar System. Although the Solar System is such a vast space that we cannot physically explore, the student-friendly resources provided in this SciGuide makes it feel like that Solar System is available at the tip of your fingers!

Veralyn Ulep
Veralyn Ulep

  • on Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:06 AM

This guide was very unique and informative. It gives information about the solar system and planets. It also provides teacher and student resources. Under the teacher resources it offers some lesson plans and additional resources that can help teachers who are looking for new ways to teach students about the solar system.

Karyn
Karyn

  • on Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:07 PM

My weakest area is the solar system when it comes to science. Starting at a small concept, and then building that concept to a bigger one, was very beneficial. It allowed me to see the solar system as a whole. I especially enjoyed the guided questions that were in the scipack while you were reading. I loved the fact that the scipack included video and audio. Every student learns differently. It was very helpful for me to see a quick clip that summed up the information on an idea. I recommend this resource to any teacher who may feel uneasy before teaching a lesson on the universe!

Victoria Chanda
Victoria Chanda

  • on Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:58 PM

I thought this was a great resource for teachers. I like how this SciGuide is setup. It makes it easy to find topics teachers are looking to cover in the classroom. It provides just enough information on different topics to give teachers more background but not too much information so that it becomes overwhelming. There are lesson plans in each section that give you plenty of resources to use in the classroom. I think it's a great tool for using in a classroom that is discussing the solar system. I would recommend any teacher to add this to their library immediately.

Rachael Kelly
Rachael Kelly

  • on Fri May 11, 2012 1:00 AM

I thought this SciGuide was great! The SciGuide was instrumental in helping me to transition the content I learned in the Solar System SciPack to knowledge I could teach to my students. This SciGuide provided me with an overview of what I learned in the SciPack and helped me to better understand the material. I think the SciGuide did a better job of getting the content across to me because it seemed to be more to the point. It also seemed to much more organized and filtered out information that was a bit more specific while still providing links to that information under the additional resources links. The themes that this SciGuide separated into seemed to mirror the SciPack which I thought was very good because it made it easier for me to follow. Although this SciGuide was primarily for Middle School, the lesson plans provided were very clear and could be easily implemented with my 9th grade students. I wish I had looked at this SciGuide prior to creating and implementing my lesson plans that dealt with the Solar System.

Shanae  (Kaneohe, HI)
Shanae (Kaneohe, HI)

  • on Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:08 AM

This is what sold me on this particular lesson I found: "The following resources are available free or at low cost from NASA or some of its partners in planetary exploration and education" (National Science Teachers Association, 2010). The fact that the resources were free and that they were from a credible site. The student samples are quite helpful when it comes having exemplars to compare my students' work to. The Modeling Orbits in the Solar System lesson was simple enough to follow and utilize in a elementary classroom. It helps that it hits my standards as well.

Jacqueline N  (, Hawaii)
Jacqueline N (, Hawaii)

  • on Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:45 AM

As a new teacher, I found the Solar System SciGuide especially helpful. It was like a "one-stop shop". It had everything needed to give me background information in formulating my understanding to help me create informative and engaging lessons. The topic "Solar System" is such a huge topic. The initial introduction given in the SciGuide was concise and easy to understand. I liked how additional information was broken into separate sections - bullets to the side-each with a short summary. I follow benchmarks that focus on certain aspects of the solar system. The bullet sections helped me to deal with just that topic - complete with lesson plan ideas, additional resources, audio clips, samples of student work, and a link to the NSTA community forums. The site is easy to navigate and because the information is so well organized, it is not overwhelming. There is alot of information. The language was easy to understand, as I was learning the information for myself. The lesson plans were great and allowed me to get a good grasp of how to teach a lesson, and able to modify for my student needs. Everything needed in one place for a successful lesson.

Cheri Alonzo
Cheri Alonzo

  • on Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:54 PM

I have nothing but praise for the 'Solar System Sci Guide. Being new to NSTA, I Literally went through each part of the guide and used what I knew would work with my students. The lesson plans were helpful in aligning with what I was already doing, but the flash sims were a bonus. I really like the way the guide is broken into Sections, this made it easy to follow. "Earth in Space" was wonderful because my students read "Seeing Earth From Space" and they were able to make Text-to-Text Connections instantly. There is so much for us educators to use and explore thanks to the NSTA Learning Center. Thank you for all of your awesome ideas and information. I look forward to use what I have learned for many years to come.

Ricki Luster
Ricki Luster

  • on Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:05 AM

The Solar System SciGuide was a perfect complement to the excellent content provided in the SciPacks. The SciGuide was organized into four themes: A Look at the Planets, Earth in Space, Formation of our Solar System, and Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites. The guide provided good resources for teachers and students that could be integrated into existing lessons that you may already be doing as well as including a complete lesson in each theme. One of the wonderful things about the resources is that they are sorted by type (hands-on, lesson ideas, online, etc.) which makes it easier to identify resources that supplement your units or will help you build units that contain well-grounded tools to assist you and your students. Even though this is a middle school SciGuide, I envision using the technology resources in this SciGuide in a lesson I’m doing with fourth graders. Beyond that I think it provides a good collection for lessons that I need to teach in other grade levels. One of the tools that I find useful are the sims that are available in the SciPacks and this SciGuide has all of the relevant sims listed under each theme. This will save me an enormous amount of time locating the sim and finding the ones that are relevant to that topic of the SciGuide. I’ve used the sims from other SciPack/Guides but found that it was cumbersome to use when I had to go through the SciPack to find them. My suggestion on improving all of the SciGuides would be to organize and include the sims for the Packs in the Guides like they were done in this particular SciGuide. I find the sims very useful to teach content to elementary students and would love to see them available for students to access independently.

Rena Roybal
Rena Roybal

  • on Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:44 AM

This SciGuide is a great resource. The overview leads to more detailed information inclduing classroom ideas and suggestions via internet links. The classroom activities are perfect for adapting to different ability levels.

Roxanne Massarelli
Roxanne Massarelli

  • on Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:01 PM

The NSTA SciGuide Solar System is an excellent resource to use in a Earth and Space Science class. It is easily divided into the sections of A Look at the Planets, and Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites, Earth in Space, and Formation of our Solar System. It gives clear, concise sources for teachers and provides students with a well laid out summary in The Solar System of different facts about each of the planets of the solar system (distance, temperature, mass). Included in the SciGuide are lesson such as Making and Mapping a Volcano, Lava Layering, Craters, Modeling Orbits in the Solar System, and Looking for Life The lesson with the greatest impact on me was the Gelatin Volcano Lesson. Students had for years created "volcano" labs with baking soda and vinegar. This lesson plan gave a real visual/hands-on view of how magma moves and flows in the earth. The students were fascinated with this lesson and wanted to perform it again and again! I have and will continue to use this SciGuide in my teaching by incorporating it into the units that deal with both Earth and Space lessons. The lessons and links provided in this Guide allow me to use it my Earth and Space Science classes and hit a majority of the standards associated from SC.8.8.8 Describe the composition of objects in the galaxy to SC.8.8.10 Compare the characteristics and movement patterns of the planets in our solar system. There were many, many other visuals and lessons helping to describe almost every aspect of the solar system. There seemed to be more resources in this guide than in others I have used with NSTA. It has the advantage of giving more options, but can be a bit overwhelming for students to explore on their own. I would recommend the teacher review and suggest specific links for students to use.

Nancy Iaukea  (Pahoa, HI)
Nancy Iaukea (Pahoa, HI)

  • on Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:50 PM

Seeing as how I never taught a space science class, I thought that this SciGuide helps teachers like me come up with hands on but cost effective projects or experiments students can do. One of these experiments is building a volcano, which can be done with everyday household items like baking soda. The SciGuide also does a good job on how this volcanic activity can tie into phenomenon that actually occur in our solar system, like on Mars' Olympus Mons. There are also sections on Asteroids and Comets and theories on how our solar system was formed, so I think this SciGuide pretty much covers all the bases. There are some things that need to be updated though, like how Pluto has been downgraded from planet to dwarf planet. But other than that, that is really minor and the SciGuide is great.

Loren Nomura
Loren Nomura

  • on Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:41 PM

This SciGuide is very thorough and has many resources to browse through. It is separated into four themes: A Look at the Planets, Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites, Earth in Space, and Formation of our Solar System. Each theme has a plethora of links to related web sites. Unfortunately a few of the links provided in this SciGuide do not work. I particularly like the lesson plan titled, Looking for Life. In this lesson, students are asked to think about life on other planets. They then create illustrations of what life on other planets may look like based on their knowledge of the planets. I think that this lesson will be very interesting to students, build interest, and get them curious about our Universe. Overall, I feel that this SciGuide provides a lot of great resources and is very organized. I think it would be a benefit to teachers to browse through this SciGuide while planning their units on the Solar System.

Juliet
Juliet

  • on Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:54 PM

The Solar System SciGuide is broken int four main sections: A Look at the Planets, Earth in Space, Formation of our Solar System, and Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites. Each separate section has its own suggested lesson plans and media resources/simulations to help students understand concepts. There are many website resources that list hands on activities, collections of lessons, visual resources and online activities for students to explore different topics related to our Solar System. The lesson plans included in each section are interesting. The first section includes a lesson plan on building a volcano and the second section experiments with making craters - as seen on the lunar surface. Another lesson plan models the distances of planets to the sun and shows how much empty space is really in the universe. Finally, there is a lesson that teaches students about the criteria necessary for life. Students learn about this and hypothesize about where life might be able to exist. Then they get to examine soil samples for possible signs of life. Overall, this SciGuide is full of good ideas and resources to use while preparing lessons and teaching space science.

Nichole M
Nichole M

  • on Mon Nov 07, 2011 12:47 AM

After completing the Sci-pack on the same subject I browsed the Sci-guide and in my opinion it is a great complement to get started on making some great lessons on the solar system. I especially like all of the small flash apps that show exactly what you are teaching. This give the more visual learners an easier time to grasp the concepts. One draw back to this is either you need a projector and a laptop or every student will need a laptop. Also the sample lesson was good to give teachers ideas. Along with the sample lesson plans the sample student work gives students a good idea of what they are trying to accomplish.One suggestion I think that would be helpful would be to have the ability to download and save the flash apps for quick access even though you might not have an internet connection in your classroom or no wireless. I hope to be able to use these resources in the future.

Michael L
Michael L

  • on Mon Nov 07, 2011 12:54 AM

The Solar System Sciguide is divided into 4 themes with assigned lesson plans: A Look at the Planets: Making and Mapping a Volcano Lava Layering Earth in Space: Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites: Craters Earth in Space: Modeling Orbits in the Solar System Formation of our solar System: Looking for Life. For my fifth grade standards, I could only apply the Modeling Orbits lesson plan. Also, I didn't really understand how Making a Volcano applied to the A Look at the Planets theme. There are many good website links but there were some that were invalid. I used the "Solar System Trading Cards" website as a jumping point for my students to research the planets. I also used "The Planets" and "Guide to Solar System" websites. On a side note, I found another interesting lesson plan "Solar System Math" using the nasa.gov links provided in the Sciguide. It had included a clay model of planets using proportions as well as the scale model of distances of the planets. Overall, the website resources/activities/videos are good for student and teacher information but I didn't find all the lesson plans as useful.

Judy Okazaki
Judy Okazaki

  • on Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:41 PM

The Solar System Sci Guide was a good place to find websites for the studetns to explore. There were some helpful activities. The features of it that I enjoyed were the many different websites that provided facts and background knowledge. There was one section Exploring Planets in the classrom Hands on Activities that I found to be useful if I were teaching the Science and Social Studies standsrds for fourth grade. It had a Comparision chart of geological processess which would be useful when teaching weathering , erosion, and deposition. However, I do feel that there needs to be more lessons geared towards the basic understanding of the solar system and lessons for fifth grade students. Even if it stated that it was for fifth grade, I know my students would be confused with some of the information provided. A lot of it was very scientific and wordy. If the students already had a strong background knowledge then the websites would be great for them. They would be able to go beyond the simple concepts of the solar system and explore other theories and ideas. This sci guide would be great for teachers who's content knowledge was science.

Denise L  (Miliani, Hawaii)
Denise L (Miliani, Hawaii)


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