Celebration Education

May 10-14

5/11 Space Mountain

Star Wars


Using toilet paper, make a solar system model that correctly depicts each planet’s distance from the sun.
Planet Sheets of toilet paper
Mercury 1
Venus 2
Earth 2.5
Mars 4
Jupiter 13
Saturn 24
Uranus 49
Neptune 77
(Pluto) 100

Write a mystery story that takes place in space.

Write a song that will help you remember the planets in our solar system.

Make a diagram of the planets. Show features such as mass, gravity, number of moons, etc. for each planet.

Do some stargazing. Can you locate any planets?

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Replies to This Discussion

1. Build the Solar System

2. History of Astronomy

3. M-VEM & J-SUN

4. Solar System to Scale

5. Space Dot-to-Dot

6. Wisher – Hubble

7. Who am I?

8. Planets mix-up

1. Planets cutouts
“sky” paper
stick glue
craft sticks
2. planets
board as “space”
The Story of Space Discovery
3. (none)
4. Planets (from activity 2)
measuring tape
either adding machine tape, rope, or sidewalk chalk
5.graph paper with coordinates
pictures of constellations
6.Wisher poster
Wisher pictures
7.clue cards
8. bean bags


1. Build the Solar System

2. History of Astronomy

3. M-VEM & J-SUN
Memorize the planets

4. Solar System to Scale

5. Space Dot-to-Dot
Constellations, graphing

6. Wisher – Hubble

7. Who am I?
Review the Planets

8. Planets mix-up
active game

Build the Solar System

Each student may color, cut out, and make their solar system. They can either make it a mobile hanging from craft sticks, or they can glue it on the gray paper.

Planets cutouts
“sky” paper
stick glue
craft sticks

make telescopes

Materials: Lenses, cardstock, tape

History of space discovery.

Place planets on the orange “universe” to tell the story of how what we know about space has changed over the years, moving the planets to the different formations as described in the story. Use the book as a guide, but do not read straight through it. You may make notes in the book.

Perhaps each child can represent one of the planets and move that planet in the display as needed.

If any of the students prepared something about the planets, have them share now.

Materials: Planets, board as “space”, The Story of Space Discovery

The Story of Space Discovery

If you never knew anything about space, what do you think you cold learn by observing the sky?

Without the aid of telescopes, people for thousands of years have studied the night sky. It is fascinating to know how much they learned.

Prehistoric people understood the relationship of the movement of earth and sun so as to predict the length of the days and where the sun will rise and set at different times of the year. An example of this is Stonehenge. Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in England. Archaeologists believed that the iconic stone monument was erected around 2500 BC, but one recent theory has suggested that the first stones were not erected until 2400-2200 BC, whilst another suggests that bluestones may have been erected at the site as early as 3000 BC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/wiltshire/5102130.stm

Early sky observers also discovered that certain lights in the sky are not really stars, but actually other planets. They knew this because the planets orbit, whereas stars are constant.

The Enuma Anu Enlil is the oldest significant astronomical text that we possess. From Mesopotamia, it is the earliest evidence that the phenomena of a planet were recognized as periodic. It was probably compiled in 1651-1157 BC, but there was some form of prototype in 1950-1651 BC.

Philolaus was an Italian philosopher who lived approximately 470 to 385 BC. Philolaus says that “there is fire in the middle at the centre ... and again more fire at the highest point and surrounding everything. By nature the middle is first, and around it dance ten divine bodies - the sky, the planets, then the sun, next the moon, next the earth, next the counterearth, and after all of them the fire of the hearth which holds position at the center. The highest part of the surrounding, where the elements are found in their purity, he calls Olympus; the regions beneath the orbit of Olympus, where are the five planets with the sun and the moon, he calls the world; the part under them, being beneath the moon and around the earth, in which are found generation and change, he calls the sky.”
Earth, moon, sun, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn
Early astronomers like Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Ptolemy (90-168 AD) placed the earth at the center of the universe. This is called geocentric.

Earth, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun,Mars, Jupiter, Saturn

Two common observations were believed to support the idea that the Earth is in the center of the Universe: The first observation is that the stars, sun, and planets appear to revolve around the Earth each day, the second is the perception that as the Earth is solid and stable it is not moving—but is at rest.

In the 3rd century BC a Greek man named Aristarchus was the first to suggest a heliocentric system. This idea did not catch on, but most astronomers continued to believe in a geocentric universe.

Between 250 and 900 AD The Maya Civilization based their calendrics in the carefully calculated cycles of the Sun, the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. The Milky Way was also crucial in their Cosmology. A number of important Maya structures are believed to have been oriented toward the extreme risings and settings of Venus.

During the Renaissance, Nicolaus Copernicus of Prussia theorized that the sun is the center of the universe. He demonstrated that the observed motions of celestial objects can be explained without putting the Earth at rest in the center of the universe. Yet people still were not ready to buy into his theory.
Is the sun the center of the universe?
Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn

The Tychonic system was a model published by Tycho Brahe in the late 16th century. It is essentially a geocentric model with the Earth at the center of the universe. The Sun and Moon revolve around the Earth, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn revolve around the Sun.

In the 14th century, Nicole Oresme, showed that neither the scriptural texts nor the physical arguments advanced against the movement of the Earth were demonstrative and adduced the argument of simplicity for the theory that the earth moves, and not the heavens. However, he concluded "everyone maintains, and I think myself, that the heavens do move and not the earth: For God hath established the world which shall not be moved."

Giordano Bruno (1548 – 1600) was an Italian astronomer, who is best known as a proponent of the infinity of the universe. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican model in identifying the sun as just one of an infinite number of independently moving heavenly bodies: he is the first man to have conceptualized the universe as a continuum where the stars we see at night are identical in nature to the Sun. This theory went against church and popular belief so he was burned at the stake.
Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn
Italian astronomer Galileo was among the first to use a telescope to observe the sky. After constructing a 20x refractor telescope he discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter in 1610. This was the first observation of satellites orbiting another planet. He also found that our Moon had craters and observed (and correctly explained) sunspots. Galileo noted that Venus exhibited a full set of phases resembling lunar phases. Galileo argued that these observations supported the Copernican system and were, to some extent, incompatible with the favored model of the Earth at the center of the universe.

Gradually, people came to believe in heliocentrism.
Sir William Herschel announced the discovery of Uranus in 1781, expanding the known boundaries of the Solar System for the first time in modern history. Uranus was also the first planet discovered with a telescope.

Neptune was discovered in 1846. It was the first planet found by mathematical prediction rather than by observation.

Edwin Powell Hubble (1889 – 1953) was an American astronomer who profoundly changed our understanding of the universe by demonstrating the existence of galaxies other than our own, the Milky Way. With the help of the use of photography, fainter objects were able to be observed. Our sun was found to be part of a galaxy made up of more than 10 billion stars. This is when the solar system, galaxy, and universe began to be measured ad defined. Hubble also helped establish that the known universe is expanding, leading many to believe that the whole universe started from one big bang.
Galaxy classification by Hubble
In 1930 in flagstaff, AZ Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. It was immediately accepted as a planet. In 2006 Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet.

M-VEM & J-SUN (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Venus)
Help students memorize the planets.

Teach a song

Or do a fingerplay to memorize the planets:

Mercury: Three fingers down (looks like an “m”)
Venus: Two fingers up (looks like a “v”)
Earth: Three fingers pointing right (looks like an “e”)
Mars: Three fingers down

Jupiter: Arms out wide to show large size
Saturn: Arms out to show rings
Uranus: hands in a circle to show planet
Neptune: hands in a circle to show planet

You may make up your own movements.

You may want to expand on this to teach about space beyond our solar system.

Our sun is a star, the closest one to us.
Eight planets surround our sun.
The first four are Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.
These planets are small and solid.
Then there's an asteroid belt.
The next four planets are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
These are large and gaseous.
Our sun and eight planets make up our solar system.
Our solar system is part of the Milky Way Galaxy.
There are over 100 billion stars in our galaxy.
There are over 100 billion galaxies in our universe.
There is only one universe.

Scale of our solar system.

A solar system picture like this is grossly out of scale, yet most images of the solar system are a variation of this.

This solar system is more accurate, in that the planet sizes are proportionate. Yet the distance between the planets are still very wrong.

We will now create a model of the solar system that better approximates the space between the planets.


Perhaps make models based on the sun being .02” – use 8' of adding machine tape:

Distance from sun:
Mercury: .83”
Venus: 1.55”
earth: 2.14”
Mars: 3.27”
Jupiter: 11.18”
Saturn: 1' 8.5”
Uranus: 3' 4.65”
Neptune: 5' 4.65”
Pluto: 7' .96”
Or use a sun the size of 1/4” - use 100' of rope & tie the planet names on or use sidewalk chalk to mark the planets on the sidewalk.

Distance from sun:
Mercury: 10.4”
Venus: 1' 7.41”
Earth: 2' 2.86”
Mars: 3' 4.92”
Jupiter: 11' 7.76”
Saturn: 21' 4.3”
Uranus: 42' 11.53”
Neptune: 67' 4.44”
Pluto: 88' 6.03”

Materials: Cut-outs of planets, measuring tape, and either adding machine tape, rope, or sidewalk chalk

Constellations are patterns formed by stars. The big and little dippers are examples of constellations.

In groups of two, let the students make constellations using the constellations grid. Younger students may choose to do one or two constellations, or make up their own constellations withthe stars on the chart.

Materials: graph paper with coordinates, pictures of constellations

Graph the following constellations:

Ursa Major: (M,37); (Q,34); (R,34); (U,33); (W,35); (Z,32); (X,30)

Ursa Minor: (R,17); (O,18); (N,20); (M,22); (K,22); (L,25); (N,25)

Draco: (B,33); (C,30); (E,32); (D,34); (B,24); (C,22); (F,24); (G,22); (G,28); (G,30); (I,31); (N,30); (R,27); (U,27)

Cepheus: (G,6); (E,10); (I,12); (J,8); (O,11)

Cassiopeia: (L,1); (K,4); (O,4); (S,5); (R,2).
6 Wisher of the day: Edwin Powell Hubble
was born in the small town of Marshfield, Missouri, USA, on November 29th, 1889. In 1898, His family moved to Chicago, where he attended high school. Young Edwin Hubble had been fascinated by science and mysterious new worlds from an early age, having spent his childhood reading the works of Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon), and Henry Rider Haggard (King Solomon's Mines), Edwin Hubble was a fine student and an even better athlete, having broken the Illinois State high jump record. When he attended University, Hubble continued to excel in sports such as basketball and boxing, but he also found time to study and earn an undergraduate degree in mathematics and astronomy.
Edwin Hubble went to Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship, where he did not continue his studies in astronomy, but instead studied law. At this point in his life, he had not yet made up his mind about pursuing a scientific career.
In 1913, Hubble returned from England and was admitted to the bar, setting up a small practice in Louisville Kentucky; but it didn't take long for Hubble to realize he wasn't happy as a lawyer, and that his real passion was astronomy, so he studied at the Yerkes Observatory, and in 1917, received a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Chicago.
Following a tour of duty in the first World War, Hubble took a job at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California, where took many photographs of Cepheid variables through 100 inch reflecting Hooker telescope, proving they were outside our galaxy, and determining the existence of several other galaxies such as our own milky way, which had until then been believed to be the universe.
Hubble had also devised a classification system for the various galaxies he observed, sorting them by content, distance, shape, and brightness; it was then he noticed redshifts in the emission of light from the galaxies, seeing saw that they were moving away from each other at a rate constant to the distance between them. From these observation, he was able to formulate Hubble's Law in 1929, helping astronomers determine the age of the universe, and proving that the universe was expanding.
It is interesting to note that In 1917, Albert Einstein had already introduced his general theory of relativity, and produced a model of space based on that theory, claiming that space was curved by gravity, therefore that it must be able to expand or contract; but he found this assumption so far fetched, that he revised his theory, stating that the universe was static and immobile. Following Hubble's discoveries, he is quoted as having said that second guessing his original findings was the biggest blunder of his life, and he even visited Hubble to thank him in 1931.
Wisher of the day:
Edwin Powell Hubble

Wished for: To prove that The Universe goes beyond the Milky Way galaxy.

Hardship: The science community did not believe. This idea had been opposed by many in the astronomy establishment of the time.

Hubble moved to California in order to study using the world's largest telescope.

In 1925 Hubble was able to observe that there are many galaxies besides our own. This fundamentally changed the view of the universe.

The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990 was named in his honor.

follow up activity:
Guess what planet I am
teacher can give a kid a planet with info about that planet and have the other kids try to guess what planet they are.

Perhaps use different space phenomena? Pleiades

Materials: clue cards

A mass of incandescent gas

A gigantic nuclear furnace

Where hydrogen is built into helium
At a temperature of millions of degrees


The smallest plant in our solar system.

The planet closest to the sun.

One of the inner planets.

Sometimes called Earth's "sister planet" because they are similar in size, gravity, and bulk composition.

Second planet from the sun.
The prettiest planet of all.

Third rock from the sun.

The only planet known to have life.

Named after the Roman god of war

Often described as the "Red Planet"

Fourth planet from the Sun.

Located between Mars and Jupiter.

Contains several minor planets.

The main belt of our solar system.
Asteroid Belt

A gas giant

Largest planet

Fifth planet from the Sun

Has a large red spot.

Sixth planet from the Sun

Second largest planet in the Solar System
A gas giant
Has a prominent system of rings, consisting mostly of ice particles with a smaller amount of rocky debris and dust.


Seventh planet from the sun.

First planet discovered by telescope

First planet discovered by mathematical prediction

Last planet in our solar system.

Dwarf planet

Used to be considered to be a planet.

One of billions of galaxies in our universe.

The galaxy in which our solar system is located.
Milky Way Galaxy

planets mix-up (like steal the bacon)
Split group in half and the teams stand at opposite ends of playing field. Each student represents a feature in our solar system. Each team uses the same features, so there will be a sun on each team, an earth on each team, etc. Place a bean bag in the center of the playing field. Leader calls out a feature of the solar system and the students that represent that feature each run out to steal the bean bag and bring it home. Each called player both attempt to get the bean bag. The person carrying the beanbag can be tagged by the other person. A team whose team member gets home with the beanbag without being tagged gets a point. If a student is able to tag the person carrying the bean bag before he gets home, his team gets a point.

True/False. Have a red and a blue beanbag, one for true and one for false. Call out the solar system featuer and then ask a true/false question. The students should retrieve the correct bacon. If a scout returns with the wrong one or tags the scout with the wrong one, then his team loses a point.

Materials: bean bags

Another idea:

Orbits Relay Race.
Two teams. Perhaps have two oldest students act as team captains to choose the teams. Each team is provided with a hoppity hop. A “sun” is placed across from the teams. Each team member must take a turn hopping an orbit around the sun. The first team to get all members back wins.

Materials: Hoppity hops

Other ideas

alien life? Mars, moon, Stephen William Hawking quote
Space jeopardy

Make a moonscape

Kids can learn the song of the 10 most common elements in space” in the tone of old McDonald” hydrogen, Helium, oxygen, carbon, neon, iron, nitrogen, silicon, magnesium, sulfur, or the teacher can add their own elements.

Make a comet
We make comets in our classroom in two ways -- I got these ideas from a NASA website. I do these after reading Maria's Comet by Deborah Hopkinson. I also have the class listen to the song Halley Came to Jackson by Mary Chapin
Dry Ice Comet Demo
2 cups water
2 cups dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) Caution
dry ice is -79 degrees celsius or -110 degrees Farenheit. Any more than the briefest exposure to skin will cause "burns." Everyone handling dry ice should wear heavy rubber gloves! Be sure to discuss safety precautions with students when working with dry ice. Day old

dry ice works best for this experiment. Keep the dry ice in an ice chest when transporting and in your freezer overnight. Many ice companies have a minimum on the amount of ice they will sell (usually 5 pounds). Having extra dry ice on hand is useful, however, because some will evaporate and also because it is advisable to practice this activity at least once before doing it with a class.
2 tablespoons of sand or dirt
dash of ammonia
dash of dark corn syrup
ice chest
four medium sized garbage bags
heavy duty rubber gloves
hammer, meat mallet, or rubber mallet
large mixing bowl
large wooden spoon
paper towels
hair dryer (optional -- use with caution)

Cut open a garbage bag and use it to line the mixing bowl.
Have all ingredients and utensils arranged in front of you before you beginn.
Pour water into the mixing bowl.
Add sand or dirt, stirring well.
Add a dash of ammonia.
Add a dash of corn syrup, stirring until well mixed.
Place the dry ice into three garbage bags that have been placed inside each other. Be sure to wear the heavy rubber gloves while handling the dry ice to keep from being burned.
Crush the dry ice by pounding it with a hammer. This is very easy to do.
Add the dry ice to the rest of the ingredients in the bowl while stirring vigorously.
Continue stirring until the mixture is almost frozen.
Lift the comet out of the bowl using the plastic liner and shape it as you would a snowball.
Unwrap the comet as soon as it is frozen sufficiently to hold its shape. Now you can place the comet on display for the rest of the day as it begins to melt and sublimate (turn directly from a solid to a gas -- which is what frozen carbon dioxide does at room temperature and comets do under the conditions of interplanetary space when they are heated by the sun's ray

Small group activity:
To investigate satellite motion.
Satellites stay in orbit using two forces: the force of gravity and centrifugal force. Gravity pulls the satellite down to earth. Centrifugal force is the outward force on an object caused by its rotation around another object. It's the same force that pushes laundry in a washing machine against the sides during the "spin" cycle. Gravity pulls one way and centripetal pulls the other. The net result is no force on the satellite.
Ball-point pen
3-foot wooden ruler
6 feet of string
Rubber band
Two rubber balls
1. Take the pen apart removing the ink cartridge.
2. Tape the pen barrel to one end of the ruler, and run the piece of string through the barrel of the pen.
3. Tie the rubber band to one end of the string.
4. Attach one rubber ball to the end of string.
5. Hold the apparatus in your right hand and swing the rubber ball around above your head. Because the stretch of the rubber band alters the orbit, keep the knot joining the string and the rubber band on the same mark on the ruler at all times.
6. Keep the orbital speed constant by adjusting of the ball until it passes exactly the same point with every tick of the metronome. The orbital speed is the number of revolutions the ball makes per second.
7. Measure how much the rubber band stretches (the satellite's centripetal force) when the orbit speed is kept constant.
8. Measure the stretch when the orbital speed is twice as fast.
9. Attach the second rubber ball and measure the stretch if the orbital speed is the same as in Step #7; then in Step #8.
10. Remove the second rubber ball and cut the string in half. Measure the stretch with one ball and the same orbital speed as in #7. Repeat steps #8 and #9 using the shorter string.
Follow-Up Discussion:
What is the effect on the centripetal force when the mass is doubled and the speed and distance are held constant? What is the effect on the force when the distance is halved and the speed and the mass are held constant? What is the effect on force when the speed is doubled and the distance and mass are held constant?
Star Wars Language Arts Lesson Plan


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