Includes 7 high-interest and engaging activities to support NGSS MS-ESS1-1, MS-ESS1-2, and MS-ESS1-3. Designed to SUPPLEMENT and add FUN to an existing middle school NGSS astronomy unit!
INDIVIDUAL RESOURCE DESCRIPTIONS:
Galaxy Types Reading & Activity: Students read (2 pages) about how scientists classify galaxies as elliptical, spiral, or irregular, then complete 18 text-dependent questions. Students are given 10 cards with galaxy pictures, and based on the information from the reading, they attempt to classify the galaxies. When they are finished, they check with your key to see how close they got. It isn't easy to classify galaxies, but the fun is in the challenge!
Draw Our Solar System TO SCALE: Students create a (really long!) poster of our solar system. Specific measurements and diameters are given so that planets will be properly placed according to their actual (scaled) distance from the Sun, and objects will be the correct scaled sizes. To accomplish this, several pieces of copy paper can be taped together, or cut a poster-sized paper in half the long way and tape the sides together. Along with the diameter/spacing information, students are also given a bit of information about how the planet should be colored, and how to label all of the objects in our solar system. Great finished products!
Find Out How FAR a LIGHT YEAR Really Is!: Do middle school students really understand how immense space is? When we say "light year", do they really have a grasp for how far it is? This challenging activity shows kids how far a light year really is! The first page of the worksheet uses math-based questions that aim to give kids a perspective on how far a light year is. They work through questions such as "How many years would you have to go to school to travel a light year?". The second part of the worksheet has a data table that has actual distances of several objects in space. Students use this information to figure out questions such as "If you were on a ship travelling about 17,500 mph, how old would you be when you got to the Andromeda Galaxy? ". Be forewarned... the numbers are HUGE on purpose - kids get a sense of the real scale of distance!
Graphing Gravity Activity: This activity has students investigate the particles of Saturn's rings to determine the relationship between mass and gravity, and distance and gravity. The first section provides students with information about different ring particles' masses and gravitational forces. Students analyze the data table for trends, and then graph the data on a provided graph. In the second section, students are provided information about different ring particles' distances from Saturn and gravitational force. Again, they analyze the data for trends and then graph the data on a provided graph. Finally, there are several analysis questions, including a claims/evidence/reasoning table, all of which focus on the relationship between mass and gravity, and distance and gravity. This activity is designed with middle school students in mind. Students are led step-by-step in an easy to follow process. The graphs are pre-made, and students are coached through labeling the axes properly.
Group Activity: Graphing Sunspots and the Solar Cycle: Groups are provided sunspot per year data for a 300 year period (1700-2000). Break up the class into groups of anywhere between 4 and 10 students per group, then individual students plot just a portion of the data. Students combine their work to make one really long graph that displays all 300 years of data! The graph clearly shows the 11 year sunspot cycle. Analysis questions and questions related to sunspots are included. Students may need to use their textbook or the internet to answer some of the questions.
Health Risks in Space Reading & Activity: Students read 2 pages about the body changes and health risks that astronauts experience in space, from bodily fluid redistribution to bone loss. There are two related worksheets which can be used together or completely independently.
NASA Scientist Biography & Questions: Valerie Thomas was a highly successful African American NASA scientist during a time that females, particularly black women, were shunned by the scientific community. She played a vital role leading many important programs at NASA, especially those related to satellites. She is best known for her invention of the illusion transmitter, the precursor to today's 3D technology. Students read a 2-page reading about the life and scientific accomplishments of Valerie Thomas. They then answer 10 text-dependent questions related to Thomas' scientific work.
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