Impacts in the Solar System (Grades 3 - 8)
Within the vast expanses of our solar system, between the planets and beyond, amazing discoveries about asteroids, comets, and meteors are currently being made. Students will take on the role of working as an astronomer by using hands-on models to explore "small bodies" in our solar system, and taking a guided virtual tour. Throughout this interactive program classes will have the opportunity to ask educators questions and engage in learning conversations.
This program integrates the Next Generation Science Standards by focusing on:
- Crosscutting Concept: Scale, Proportion and Quantity
- Science and Engineering Practice: Developing and Using Models
Date: Tuesdays and Thursdays, January - May
Duration: 45 - 60 minutes
Target Audience: 3rd-8th graders in schools, libraries, homeschool groups, and more
Price: $70 per session; discounts available for Title I schools and bulk purchases of 5+ programs
Group Size: 8-65 students per session
Multilingual support: English, Spanish, Cantonese, and Mandarin
- Use the preparation checklist to make sure you don't miss a step in the process.
- The technical guide will help you become more familiar with our online platform, Zoom.
- Nervous about the technology, you can schedule a FREE technical check-in with Academy staff to walk you through how to connect the day of the program.
The Impacts in the Solar System program will begin with students traveling on a virtual expedition into our Solar System to explore impact craters on a mystery object, and how they compare to impact craters on Earth.
With an understanding that scientists classify objects in space after observing patterns about their shape, size, composition, and orbits, students will practice this skill by categorizing objects from our solar system by finding patterns with their partner. They will examine scale models of four objects—Itokawa, 67-P, Vesta, and Ceres—to try to categorize them based on their observations.
During the scale model investigation, they’ll place the cutouts of the objects on maps of Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, and the United States to conceptualize and compare their sizes. They will also make inferences about how these objects’ surface and shape has been affected by impacts.
After exploring the scale of these objects, students will compare their orbits and make inferences about how an object’s orbit might affect its likelihood of impact.
Students will then observe images of an impact on Jupiter’s surface to examine what impacts look like on gaseous planets. We will discuss whether all objects in the Solar System are affected by impacts, and what those impacts look like on different objects.
Finally, we will discuss why there are so many impact craters all over the Solar System and how we can predict when future impacts will occur on Earth.
Science and Engineering Practices:
- Developing and Using Models: Use models to describe phenomena.
Disciplinary Core Ideas:
- ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System The solar system consists of the sun and a collection of objects, including planets, their moons, and asteroids that are held in orbit around the sun by its gravitational pull on them.
- MS-ESS1-1.A: Earth and the Solar System Patterns of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, predicted, and explained with models.
- MS-ESS2-3.1: Earth’s Systems Science findings are frequently revised and/or reinterpreted based on new evidence.
Cross Cutting Concepts:
- Patterns Science assumes that objects and events in natural systems occur in consistent patterns that are understandable through measurement and observation.