Science: Planets

Weeks 9 and 10 of school we learned about the planets using Layers of Learning, year 1 unit 1.

We painted styrofoam balls to look like the planets and the sun and then put them together in a solar system. (We included Pluto because you heard about Pluto? That’s messed up.)

We demonstrated how temperature works on Mercury when it’s directly in the sun and when it is not. The thermometer directly in the light went up faster and more degrees than the thermometer on the edge of the light.

We showed why Venus is only visible from Earth at certain times.

We demonstrated why Earth’s atmosphere makes our planet perfect to sustain life. Under the lamp the thermometers both heated up the same, but after being removed from the light, the thermometer without the plastic wrap “atmosphere” cooled down more than the one inside the “atmosphere” because the plastic wrap helped keep the temperature more stable.

We showed why the orbit of Mars looks regressive to us on Earth.

We demonstrated why the asteroids in the asteroid belt keep spinning around in their orbits. We used a marble to represent an asteroid. First we spun it with construction paper in the bottom of the pie pan and then without. It spun for a long time without because the construction paper added friction and slowed it down. In outer space, there isn’t any friction to slow down the asteroids so they keep going around and around the sun.

There’s a constant giant storm on Jupiter. It’s swirling like a hurricane. We showed how that works by putting tea leaves in water and stirring them. When we removed the spoon, they continued to spin like a whirlpool.

Saturn’s rings are lots of bits of things, but they are easy to see. We demonstrated why that is by blowing some cornstarch into the path of a flashlight in a dark room. With the dark background, the cornstarch showed up very clearly even though it was tiny particles (they didn’t show up very well in the picture, though).

We showed why Uranus is always spinning sideways using a paper plate and string. Giving it a spin before swinging it side to side made the plate move in a much less erratic pattern.

We drew how Neptune’s orbit is elliptical instead of round.

We spent some time looking at the Kepler Space Telescope website.

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