Teaching Tips - Detailed Lesson Plan
Part I. Observing Images
The surface appears to be solid. There are many dark, circular areas of different sizes on the surface. They look like craters. The sides around the craters seem to be higher and brighter than the dark center. The areas around the craters look smoother than the rest of the surface. I think this image shows a close-up view of the surface of the Moon.
When they have finished the descriptions for all ten images, students check their work by peer review. Students read their descriptions to other students working with them to see if they can recognize the image. If their peers can not recognize the image, the student should add more details and revise the descriptions.
Part II. The Researcher's Description
Part III. Summary
As their list moves from the terrestrial planets near the sun to Jupiter and beyond, they should be able to notice a marked change in the types of features observed in the images. Terrestrial planets are likely to have mountains, rocks, soil, canyons, and volcanoes, (Earth also has clouds). The gas giants have smoother-looking surfaces and may be belted, have definite atmospheric zones, rings, and storms. This should bring out the fact that there are two basic categories of planets, in the inner and outer zones of the solar system. This difference will not be evident in the moons, since most moons are rocky or icy bodies "captured" by their planets.
Students read the following summary:
It's ok if you thought Pluto might be like the gas giants. Current images of it cannot show any details of the surface, so they look very smooth.
When students have finished, they can browse the Exploring the Planets gallery (at the Air and Space Museum) or other on-line resources on the planets through links at the end of the assignment.
Use a combination of discussion participation, student worksheets and this paper and pencil test. Students may also be shown a set of new images of planets and moons, such as those available from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific Web site, and asked to categorize them.
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