Solar System Project

Solar System Project

The Future of Space Travel Project

Teacher: Felicia Frazee

Grade: 3rd         

Subject Areas: Science, Reading, Writing, Math, Technology

Essential Questions:

How can you prepare an advertisement and sales pitch to convince others that a trip to your chosen planet is the best choice for a vacation?

What are the potential problems with interplanetary travel and how might they be solved in the future?

How can you ensure the safety of your “customers” while visiting your planet?

How can understanding our own planet better help us comprehend the solar system?

What does our planet have that makes it unique and able to sustain life?

Project Overview:

Third grade students at Austin Jewish Academy pondered the above essential questions about the future prospect of interplanetary space travel. Through reading, research, videos, activities and experiments, third graders built their overall knowledge of our solar system. This included the sun, moon, starts, eight planets, dwarf planets, and more. Third grade also took a trip to the planetarium at the Texas Museum of Science and Technology to extend this knowledge. Former astronaut and AJA parent, Greg Chamitoff came to the class as a guest speaker. He talked about his real-life experience in outer space and also gave the students insight into the future of space travel. According to Mr. Chamitoff, travel to Mars could be possible within my students’ lifetime. Students then harnessed this knowledge as they prepared the many components of our culminating event: The Space Travel Expo.

Mr. Chamitoff visits our class. AJA third graders conduct an experiment to discover that the moon does not produce its own light, it reflects light from the sun.

Culminating Event: Space Travel Expo

Third graders chose their planet to research based on interest and were then grouped into pairs. Each pair focused on one of the planets with the exception of Earth, which we studied as a class. The partners worked together to prepare the final products below to present at the expo. I invited the entire Austin Jewish Academy to the Space Travel Expo culminating event. Here, each visiting student received a “planetary pass” to ensure that they saw each presentation. Third graders were prepped to tailor their message to their audience. For example, they shortened their sales pitch for younger groups but gave extra details to older groups. After a visitor completed all seven booths, he/she received a ticket to place in their box of choice to vote for the planet they’d like to travel to most. Teachers and other attending adults were asked to fill out an evaluation form for each group. This evaluation form was used as part of the students’ grade for the project.

Final Products Presented:

  • Persuasive Research Paper– This three-paragraph research paper included physical characteristics of their planet, info on rotation, planetary order, distance from the sun, and other interesting facts using various texts, https://www.nasa.gov, and other websites. Students also incorporated their knowledge of persuasive writing in order to convince those at the expo to choose their planet. Each student authored his/her own research paper, however, they were able to consult their partner for fact verification, inspiration, and editing.
  • Commercial (includes slogan)- Third grade students watched various commercials including those made by other children, commercials for vacation resorts, etc. Then, each pair wrote their own script, presented to peers in class for editing, and filmed in front of a green screen in technology class. The tech teacher filmed them, edited the videos, and included backgrounds for the green screen. These were presented at morning meeting to promote the Space Travel Expo.
  • Problem/Solution Chart– After a lot of research about their chosen planets, partner groups wrote out potential problems with travel. Some problems included lack of sufficient gravity, lack of oxygen, gas surfaces, lack of food/water, and harsh climates. Solutions included hovering hotels, space suits, portable bubble pods, and more.
  • Logo and Slogan– Students were shown many logos with slogans such as Nike’s “Just Do It,” and Mc Donald’s “I’m Lovin’ It,” along with many more. We had class discussions and observed logos around us such as logos on students’ shirts and shoes. Students then designed their own logo and slogan. Here are a few examples: “Neptune, so far out, yet so much to explore.” “Live life, love Mars” “Keep calm and ring on,” “Buy the joy of Jupiter,”
  • Model of Resort on Planet– Students first viewed several resorts online in both regular and model form. The pairs then drew blueprints of their resort/hotel and had them approved by me. After that, students used recyclable materials such as boxes, cans, etc. to build the resort models. Students made sure to address the potential travel problems with their planet in their model. Students included things such as hovering hotels (for gas planets), protective domes, and space suits.
  • Tours and Activities– Each pair thought of possible tours and activities to include in order to entice expo participants. These included things such as tours of a planet’s moons, anti-gravity floatation rooms, observatories, planetariums, rover tours, and much more. These were typed up and printed to show at the expo.
  • Interactive Element– Each pair was encouraged to include an interactive element to their booths. A lot of creative freedom was given on this as it occurred organically in my classroom. For example, one pair decided to make a slide show about the rules for using their hover boards. Students studying Venus had students inside a box painted to look like the surface of Venus and spun them the opposite way of Earth. (Venus spins clockwise)
  • Infographic– In technology class, students used notes from their research to make infographics using a program called Piktochart. Students included at least three interesting facts, their planet’s order from the sun, its distance from the sun, and its radius.
  • Travel Packages- In their pairs, students came up with travel packages of three price levels. These packages included prices in the ________, demonstrating their knowledge of place value. The first package included a base price, which was then added to another number to create the second, more premium package. The second package price was added to another number to create the third, most expensive package. This demonstrated their ability to add large numbers using regrouping. When presenting, students were encouraged to round numbers, showing off their estimation/rounding abilities.

Resources Used:

Websites:

https://www.nasa.gov

http://www.planetsforkids.org/

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9UWNBTR6_I (fun song about the planets)

 Books:

13 Planets The Latest View of the Solar System by David A. Aguilar

The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons

Smart Kids Space: For Kids Who Really Love Space! by Roger Priddy