Third Grade - Science - Lesson 42 - Astronomy

Objectives

Identify two natural satellites.

Demonstrate the position of the Earth, Moon and Sun in a solar and lunar eclipse.

List uses for manmade satellites.

Write a description of a personal satellite and how it would be used.

Materials

Sun, Moon and Earth signs, flashlight, projector screen or light-colored bulletin board

Diagram of solar and lunar eclipses for transparency (attached)

Pictures of solar eclipses from Suggested Books

Pictures of manmade satellites from Suggested Books

 Suggested Books

Arnold, Sandra. Child of the Sun: A Cuban Legend. Mahwah, NJ: Troll, 1995. Tells the story of greedy Sun who would not share the sky with Moon--an explanation of solar eclipses.

Aronson, Billy. Eclipses: Nature's Blackouts. New York: Franklin Watts, 1996. Gives a clear explanation of what causes solar and lunar eclipses and offers myths from different cultures concerning them.

Branley, Franklyn. Eclipse. New York: HarperCollins, 1988. A Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science book.

Dailey, Robert. The Sun. New York: Franklin Watts, 1994. Pages 35-37 contain dramatic photos of a total solar eclipse showing the corona.

Gustafson, John. Planets, Moons and Meteors. New York: Julian Messner, 1992. There are three photos on page 31 of an eclipse viewed from Hawaii in 1991 clearly showing the corona.

Kerrod, Robin. The Children's Space Atlas. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1991. Pages 30 through 31 contain information on eclipses and a large diagram. Page 83 includes a good cutaway illustration of a satellite.

Barrett, N.S. Night Sky. New York: Franklin Watts, 1985. There is an illustration of a satellite on the title page.

Mayes, Susan. What's Out in Space? New York: Usborne, 1990. Pages 18 and 19 include pictures of satellites, satellite dishes and uses of satellites.

Stacy, Tom. Sun, Stars and Planets. New York: Random House, 1990. Page 17 contains color illustrations of satellites.

Whitehorne, Baje. Sunpainters: Eclipse of the Navajo's Sun. Sante Fe: Rising Moon, 1994. Navajo legend explains a solar eclipse.
 
 

Procedure

Ask: What is the name of the Earth's natural satellite? (the Moon) Ask: What is a satellite? (something that orbits something else) Is the Earth a satellite? (Yes, it orbits the Sun.) Have three volunteers play the parts of Sun, Moon and Earth and have each wear a sign. Darken the room and give the Sun a flashlight. Position the Sun so the flashlight is shining on a projector screen or light-colored bulletin board. Position the Earth in front of the screen or board and ask him or her to slowly rotate. Point out that the Sun is shining on half of the Earth at a time. Ask: What do you see on the screen or board behind the Earth? (a shadow) Position the Moon between the Sun and the Earth. Tell the students that as the Moon orbits the Earth, occasionally it comes between the Earth and the Sun and blocks the Sun's light. Ask: When the Moon is in this position, what do you think happens on Earth? (The Moon casts a shadow on the Earth.) Tell the students that when the Moon comes between the Earth and Sun and blocks out the Sun's light, it is called a solar eclipse. Write this on the board.

Have the Earth and Moon switch places. Ask: What do you think happens when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon? (The Earth blocks the Sun's light and makes a shadow on the Moon.) Tell the students that when the Earth comes between the Sun and Moon it is called a lunar eclipse. Write this on the board. Have the volunteers sit down. Show the students the transparency of the lunar and solar eclipses. Point out the positions of the Earth, Moon and Sun for solar and lunar eclipses. Tell the students that as the Moon moves in between the Sun and Earth in a solar eclipse, the Sun's atmosphere becomes visible. This atmosphere is called the Sun's corona. Write this word on the board. If available, show the students a picture of a solar eclipse from Suggested Books and point out the Sun's corona. Tell them that scientists are always excited when there is going to be a solar eclipse because it is a great opportunity to study the activity of gases in the Sun's atmosphere. Tell the students that scientists use special equipment to observe and photograph the Sun's corona. Remind the students that one should never look directly at the Sun at any time, especially during an eclipse, because the Sun's strong rays can damage eyesight.

Tell the students that a solar eclipse lasts only an hour or so. During a total eclipse, the Moon looks like a big cookie, slowly sliding across the face of the Sun. As more of the Sun is covered, the sky darkens and stars can be seen. Animals go to sleep as if it were night time. Then, a few minutes later, as the Moon moves out of line with the Sun and Earth, the sky begins to brighten again. Roosters crow as if it were dawn.

Ask the students to imagine how people of long ago might have reacted to an eclipse of the Sun. Ask: Do you think they would be frightened? Why? (Accept all answers.) Remind the students that people often make up stories or myths to help explain natural occurrences. Ask: What are some natural occurrences that might be especially frightening? (volcanoes, earthquakes and eclipses) Tell the students that the ancient Chinese had an explanation for eclipses. They believed that the Sun moved across the sky because it was being chased by a dragon. When the Sun disappeared in the middle of the day, they believed it was because the dragon had caught the Sun and was eating it. To scare the dragon and make it cough up the Sun, the people would make as much noise as possible by banging drums and gongs. They would shoot arrows into the sky until the dragon "let go of the Sun." Point out that this strategy always worked. The Sun returned.

Remind the students that the Earth and Moon are natural satellites. Ask the students to think about manmade satellites. Show the students pictures of manmade satellites from Suggested Books. Tell them that satellites carry cameras, sensors, computers, transmitters and receivers. Ask: Why do you think the U.S. and other countries spend billions of dollars launching manmade satellites into orbit? What do manmade satellites do? Make a list on the board. Possible responses may include the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope; weather satellites that gather information about weather patterns on Earth; communication satellites that bounce signals to the other side of the world so we can talk on the phone to friends in Japan; send e-mail to Australia or use a satellite dish to pick up signals and watch television shows from around the world; spy satellites that take close-up pictures of missiles in other countries and navigation satellites that help ships at sea locate their positions so they don't get lost. Point out that now cars are being made that use the information from navigation satellites. The cars contain computers that communicate with satellites to find locations. Then the computers tell the drivers which way to turn to get to a certain address. Tell the students that scientists also use satellites to monitor our atmosphere for pollution and even to track the movements of elephant herds in Africa. Ask: If you could launch your own satellite into orbit around the Earth, how would you like to use it? Have each student write a paragraph describing his or her own personal satellite and how it would be used.

 Third Grade - Science - Lesson 43 - Astronomy

 Objectives

Identify the Sun as a medium-sized star, the closest one to Earth.
Calculate the distance in miles of the next nearest star.
Write a postcard to a friend describing a supernova.

 Materials

Pictures of the Crab Nebula or other nebula from Suggested Books, if available

Pictures of a supernova from Suggested Books
 
 

Suggested Books

Asimov, Isaac. Star Cycles: The Life and Death of Stars. Milwaukee: Gareth Stevens, 1995.

Bailey, Donna. Far Out in Space. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn, 1991. Pages 14 and 15 contain photos of the Rosette Nebula and the Helix Nebula.

Barrett, N.S. Night Sky. New York: Franklin Watts, 1985. Pages 21 to 25 include photos of various nebulae. Nebula means cloud.

Barrett, N.S. Night Sky. New York: Franklin Watts, 1985. There is an illustration of a supernova on page 25.

Birdseye, Tom. A Song of Stars. New York: Holiday House, 1990. In this Chinese legend, a princess and the herdsman she loves are sent to opposite edges of the Milky Way.

Gibbons, Gail. Stargazers. New York: Holiday House, 1992. Answers questions about stars-- what they are, why they twinkle, how astronomers study them.

Jefferies, Lawrence. All About Stars. Mahwah, NJ: Troll, 1983. Answers the question: How long does a star live?

Kerrod, Robin. The Children's Space Atlas. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1991. Pages 70 to 73 include pictures of nebulae and of a supernova as well as an illustration showing how stars of different sizes progress through their life cycles.

Lippincott, Kristen. Astronomy. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1994. Page 61 includes a small picture of a supernova and one of the Orion Nebula.

Lurie, Alison. Heavenly Zoo: Legends and Tales of the Stars. New York: Farrar Straus, 1996. A book of folklore concerning the stars.

Mayo, Gretchen Will. More Star Tales. New York: Walker, 1991. Contains Native American legends about the stars and moon.

McDonald, Megan. My House Has Stars. New York: Orchard, 1996. Eight children from different countries compare their views of the night sky.

Reigot, Betty Polisar. A Book About Planets and Stars. New York: Scholastic, 1988. In addition to information on the birth and death of stars, this book includes a good photo of the Crab Nebula on page 45.

Rosen, Sidney. How Far is a Star? Minneapolis: Carolrhoda, 1992. Uses a question and answer format to discuss interstellar distances, star formation and black holes.

Simon, Seymour. Star Walk. New York: Morrow, 1995. Pairs well-known poems and dramatic photos of stars and nebulae.

________. The Stars. New York: Morrow, 1986. Examines the variety of stars and their characteristics. Includes excellent photos.

Sipiera, Paul. Stars. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1997. Explores the life cycles of stars.

Stacy, Tom. Sun, Stars and Planets. New York: Random House, 1990. Pages 8 and 9 follow the stages in the life cycle of the Sun.

Stannard, Russell. Our Universe: A Guide to What's Out There. New York: Kingfisher, 1995.

Contains a great chapter on the life and death of stars and more information on supernovae. There is an illustration of the Crab Nebula on page 47.
 
 

Procedure

Tell the students that in this lesson they will learn about the lives of the stars. Ask: What star is closest to Earth? (the Sun) Remind the students that all life on Earth depends upon the heat and light energy of that star. Ask: When you see the stars in the sky, do they all look the same? (No. Some stars are brighter than others or look bigger than others.) Ask: What is the brightest star we see? (the Sun) Is the Sun a big star or a small star? (It is a medium-sized star.) Remind the students that light travels 186,000 miles per second. Tell them that if they could travel as fast as a beam of light, it would take 82 minutes to reach the Sun. Traveling at the speed of light, to get to the next closest star called Proxima Centauri would take four years. We say that Proxima Centauri is four light years away from Earth. A light year is about six trillion miles. Ask: How many trillion miles away is Proxima Centauri? (6 x 4 or 24 trillion miles) Ask: Does anyone remember how far away from Earth the Sun is? (93 million miles)

Ask: What are stars made of? (burning gases) Tell the students that astronomers believe stars form from whirling clouds of gas, dust and ice particles. These clouds are called nebulae (NEB-you-lie). Write this on the board. Tell the students that some astronomers say nebulae are like star nurseries--they are where stars are born. If available, show the students pictures of the Crab Nebula or other nebulae from Suggested Books. Tell them that astronomers think it was from a nebula that our Sun and the solar system were formed. This is how they think it might have happened. Particles in nebulae tend to clump together. The gravity from the clumped matter pulls in more and more particles from around it, so a clump gets bigger and bigger and its gravity grows stronger. Over time, the gravity causes the clumped material to collapse in on itself, squeezing it into a tight ball. As the particles are pulled in and crash together in the center of the clump, they heat up. If there are enough particles crashing together and they create enough heat, a nuclear fire starts. This is how a star is born. The nuclear fire of a star can burn for millions or billions of years, radiating heat and light energy like a nuclear furnace.

Point out that scientists think Jupiter may be a star that was never born. Because Jupiter is smaller than the Sun, when its particles collapsed together, there wasn't enough heat energy to start a nuclear fire so it never became a star. Ask the students to imagine what life might be like on Earth if Jupiter had become a star. Ask: How might life on Earth be different if we had two Suns in our solar system? (Accept all answers. Some responses might include: two suns rising and setting in the sky, much hotter temperatures, no nighttime, perhaps we would be orbiting Jupiter as it orbited the Sun.)

Ask: How do you think the planets in our solar system were formed? Do you think they were formed from the same cloud of dust and gases that formed the Sun? (yes) Tell the students that after the Sun was born, particles in the cloud whirling around it clumped together in smaller clumps. Ask the students to imagine how dust bunnies form. Tell them that 4 2 billion years ago these dust bunnies in space gathered more and more material until their gravity was enough to squeeze the material in tight balls. Inside the balls, there was tremendous heat and pressure. The heat and pressure changed the material in the balls to rock and heavy metals. On Earth, gases bubbled up through the rock and formed an atmosphere, a gas envelope around the planet.

Ask: What is the name of the galaxy where our solar system is found? (the Milky Way) Tell the students that stars are always forming in the Milky Way and in the many, many other galaxies across the universe. Stars are born, they live as long as their nuclear fuel lasts and then they die. Stars have life cycles. Scientists estimate that the Sun is 4 2 billion years old and halfway through its life cycle. Tell the students that the biggest stars burn much hotter and brighter than our Sun. These giant stars burn their nuclear fuel more quickly. When their fuel is gone these giant stars do not just fade away. They explode. Tell the students that this explosive death of a giant star is called a supernova. Write this on the board. Show the students illustrations of a supernova from Suggested Books. Ask: What do you think happens to the material in a star when it explodes? (It is blasted out into space.) Tell the students that a supernova throws star dust and gas out into space in a glowing cloud brighter than a million suns. Shock waves from the explosion push the star dust across the galaxy. The star dust mixes with the material in other nebulae where new stars are forming. The dust from a dying star begins the life of a new star. This is how star dust is recycled. Ask: Where might the dust and gases that formed our Sun and solar system have come from? (a supernova) Tell the students that if this is true, then it is from the dust and released energy of a supernova that the Sun, the planets and all living things on Earth, including humans, were formed. We are all made of star dust.

Tell the students that a young astronomer spotted and photographed a supernova in 1987. The exploding star was 170,000 light years away from Earth. Ask: How long did it take for the light from the explosion to travel to Earth? (170,000 years) Point out that 170,000 years ago when this supernova occurred, wooly mammoths were walking the Earth.

Ask the students to imagine that they are on a space mission in another part of the galaxy and witness a supernova. Have them write an e-mail message or postcard to a friend back on Earth describing what they have seen. Ask them to keep in mind this question: Is a supernova noisy?
 
 

Third Grade - Science - Lesson 44 - Astronomy
 
 

Objectives

Describe how a star is formed.
Simulate how asteroids and meteorites make craters on a planet's surface.
Measure and chart sizes of craters created by objects dropped from two different heights.

Materials

Picture of Meteor Crater in Arizona from Suggested Books

Pictures of asteroids from Suggested Books

"Asteroids" poem and "Meteorites" poem from Space Songs by Livingston, if available

For each group of four or five students: A large tray or box of damp sand 4" deep, three objects such as a golf ball, rock, baseball, etc., a ruler, a chair, a worksheet (attached)
 
 

Suggested Books

Asimov, Isaac. Mysteries of Deep Space: Black Holes, Pulsars and Quasars. Milwaukee: Gareth Stevens, 1994. Asimov's discussion of the mystery of black holes is accessible without being overly simplistic.

Bendick, Jeanne. Comets and Meteors: Visitors from Space. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook, 1991.

Bonar, Samantha. Comets. New York: Franklin Watts, 1998.

Gustafson, John. Planets, Moons and Meteors. New York: Julian Messner, 1992. Includes a schedule of meteor showers as well as pictures of comets and meteors.

Hillman, Ben. That Pesky Toaster. New York: Hyperion, 1995. Wacky tale of a toaster that pops up a galaxy, complete with black hole.

Lauber, Patricia. Meteors and Meteorites: Voyagers from Space. New York: Scholastic, 1989. Pages 22 and 23 contain photos of asteroids.

Livingston, Myra Cohn. Space Songs. New York: Holiday House, 1988. Page 19 contains a wonderful poem about meteorites.

Newton, David. Black Holes and Supernovae. New York: Twenty First Century, 1997. This text is for older readers but the illustrations are excellent.

Packard, Edward. Through the Black Hole. Milwaukee: Gareth Stevens, 1995. A choose-your-own adventure book that begins with a mission to navigate a black hole.

Polacco, Patricia. Meteor. New York: Paper Star, 1996. Based on a true story of a meteor's impact on a small community.

Posner, Jackie. Magic School Bus Out of this World: A Book About Space Rocks. New York: Scholastic, 1996. Adventures with Ms. Frizzle include exploring comets, shooting stars and meteorites.

Rosen, Sidney. Can You Catch a Falling Star? Minneapolis: Carolrhoda, 1995.

Simon, Seymour. Comets, Meteors and Asteroids. New York: Morrow, 1994.

________. The Solar System. New York: Morrow, 1992. Page 58 contains a very good illustration of asteroids.

Sipiera, Paul. Black Holes. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1997.

Stacy, Tom. Sun, Stars and Planets. New York: Random House, 1990. Page 11 shows an illustration of Meteor Crater.

Vogt, Gregory. Asteroids, Comets and Meteors. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook, 1996.

Yolen, Jane. Commander Toad and the Big Black Hole. New York: Paper Star, 1996.
 
 

Procedure

Remind the students that in the last lesson they learned about nebulae. Ask: What is a nebula? (a cloud of dust, gas and ice particles in space, a "nursery" where stars are born) Ask the students to describe how scientists think a star is formed. Write the star-is-born sequence on the board. (1. Gas, dust and ice particles clump together. 2. The clump pulls in particles around it and gets bigger and bigger. Its gravity grows stronger. 3. Over time, the gravity squeezes the particles tighter and tighter. 4. Particles crash together in the center of the clump and create heat. 5. If there is enough heat, a nuclear fire starts and a star is born.) Ask: After millions or billions of years of burning, what causes a star to die? (It runs out of nuclear fuel.) Remind the students that when the nuclear fire at the core of a giant star burns out, gravity causes it to collapse in on itself. Ask: What is a supernova? (death of a giant star, an explosion) Tell the students that what is left after the explosion blasts away star dust and gas is the densely-packed core of the dead star. The dead star's gravity is so strong, that even a tiny bit of it the size of an ice cube would weigh hundreds of tons. Tell them that the dead star continues to collapse, all its particles squeezing together until it is smaller than a pinhead. Tell them that a star once ten times bigger than the Sun is now smaller than a freckle. Its gravity is so strong that nothing can escape its pull. The dead star is now called a black hole. Write this on the board. Tell the students that a black hole's gravity sucks in anything around it including light. That is why it is called a black hole. Light cannot escape its pull. A black hole can suck in stars and planets, too. The more it sucks in, the heavier it grows and the stronger its pull becomes. Astronomers think there is a black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Ask: If a black hole does not let light escape, how could astronomers detect a black hole? (Accept all answers.) Tell the students that astronomers have detected superhot star gases being sucked away and then disappearing like dust bunnies into a vacuum cleaner. They think the vacuum cleaner action is caused by a black hole.

Ask: Do you think the Earth has had any visitors from space? (Accept all answers.) Show the students pictures of Arizona's meteor crater from Suggested Books. Tell them that this is evidence of a visitor from space. The visitor is called a meteor. Write this on the board. Tell the students that meteors are sometimes called falling stars or shooting stars but they are not stars. Meteors are pieces of rock, some the size of dust particles, others much larger. When meteors come to Earth, they fall through its atmosphere and burn up, causing bright, glowing streaks in the sky. Tell the students that millions of meteors come through Earth's atmosphere every day. Very rarely, a meteor will make it through Earth's atmosphere without burning up. A meteor that actually hits the Earth is called a meteorite. Meteorites come in all sizes, too. Large ones can crash into the ground and make a hole called a crater. Tell the students that the meteorite that caused the 575-foot-deep crater in Arizona was traveling very fast when it hit the ground. Ask: Why do you think scientists would be interested in studying meteorites? (They are rocks from space. Scientists want to study them to find out what materials can be found outside Earth.)

Ask: Where else besides Earth can craters be found? (on the moon) Remind the students that the surface of the moon is full of craters. Ask: What do astronomers think made the craters on the moon? (rocks from space called asteroids) Write this word on the board. Tell the students that when the planets were forming, there was a lot of loose rock in space crashing into planets. Scientists think a really big rock may have smashed into our planet and knocked off a piece of Earth that became the Moon.

Tell the students that in our solar system there are still thousands of asteroids. The largest one is as big as the moon. The smallest asteroid is smaller than a pebble. These rocks are left over from the formation of the planets. Most asteroids orbit the Sun between the orbit paths of Mars and Jupiter. Others orbit close to the Sun and sometimes come near Earth. Show the students pictures of asteroids from Suggested Books. Ask: Do you think an asteroid has ever hit the Earth? (Accept all answers.) Tell the students that scientists have found evidence that an asteroid hit the Earth 65 million years ago. Tell them that the asteroid collision may have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and many other animals that shared their world. If available, read "Asteroids" and "Meteorites" from Myra Cohen Livingston's Space Songs.

Suggest that students experiment with making impact craters on a much, much smaller scale. Divide the students into groups of four or five. Distribute materials and worksheets to each group.

Third Grade - Science - Lesson 44 - Astronomy

 Make Some Craters
 
 

1. Fill in the chart below with the names of three objects. These will be

make-believe asteroids or meteorites.
 
 

2. Drop each object from the same height so it falls into the sand.
 
 

3. Carefully remove the objects and measure the width and depths of the craters with a ruler. Record the measurements on the chart below.
 
 

4. If the objects are dropped from a greater height, do you predict the craters they make will be bigger? Deeper? Write your prediction on the line below.
 
 

_________________________________________________________________
 
 

5. Smooth the sand in the tray so it is flat. Have a group member stand on a chair and drop the objects into the sand again. Be sure to support the person on the chair so he or she will not fall.
 
 

6. Help your group member get down off the chair safely. Carefully remove the objects and measure the widths and depths of their craters with the ruler. Record them on the chart.
 
 

7. Was your prediction correct? ________________________________________
 
 
 
 
 

 

 


 

Low Drop


 

High Drop


 
 
 

Objects


 

crater

width


 

Crater

Depth


 

crater

width


 

crater

depth


 
 

1.

 

 

 

 

 


 
 

2.

 

 

 

 

 


 
 

3.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Third Grade - Science - Lesson 45 - Astronomy

 Objectives

Describe meteorites and asteroids.
Calculate the year of return for Halley's comet.
Create an illustration or "space song" describing the Big Bang.

 Materials

Pictures of comets from Suggested Books

"Comets" and "Secrets" poems from Space Songs, if available

A large balloon marked with 20 dots

Crayons or paints and paper for each student
 
 

Suggested Books

Bailey, Donna. Far Out in Space. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn, 1991.

Barrett, N.S. Night Sky. New York: Franklin Watts, 1985. Page 26 includes a photo of Comet Ikeya-Seki which made an appearance in the night sky in 1965.

Bendick, Jeanne. Comets and Meteors: Visitors from Space. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook, 1991. Includes a good illustration of Halley's comet.

Bendick, Jeanne. The Universe: Think Big! Brookfield, CT: Millbrook, 1991. Page 30 includes a brief description of the Big Bang theory.

Bonar, Samantha. Comets. New York: Franklin Watts, 1998. Includes many pictures of comets.

Gustafson, John. Planets, Moons and Meteors. New York: Julian Messner, 1992. Page 57 contains two dramatic pictures of Halley's comet, one taken in 1910 and the other in 1986.

Kerrod, Robin. The Children's Space Atlas. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1991. On page 77, there is an artist's representation of what an expanding universe might look like.

Livingston, Myra Cohn. Space Songs. New York: Holiday House, 1988.

Simon, Seymour. Comets, Meteors and Asteroids. New York: Morrow, 1994.

________. The Solar System. New York: Morrow, 1992. Pages 60 and 61 include a photo taken from a spacecraft of Halley's Comet.

Stannard, Russell. Our Universe: A Guide to What's Out There. New York: Kingfisher, 1995. Contains an excellent chapter on the Big Bang.
 
 

Teacher Note

Blow up the balloon to the size of a baseball. Use a marker to make dots all over the balloon.
 
 

Procedure

Ask the students to describe the visitors from space that they learned about in the last lesson. (Meteorites are rocks and dust from space that manage to get through the Earth's atmosphere without burning up and hit the Earth. Asteroids are rocks left over from the formation of the solar system. Scientists think an asteroid hit the Earth 65 million years ago.) Tell the students that Earth has other visitors from the very edges of our solar system. These are called comets. Comets are big dirty ice balls a few miles wide. They usually orbit the Sun in a path way out beyond Pluto. Occasionally, a comet sweeps in close to the Sun. Coming close to the Sun changes the comet. Its frozen gases heat up. Gases and steam trail behind it like a glowing tail millions of miles long. Show the students pictures of comets from Suggested Books. Tell them that one comet that circles past Earth is Halley's comet. It is named after a scientist, Edmond Halley, who saw the comet in 1682. After studying it, Halley predicted that its orbit would bring Halley's comet past Earth every 76 years. His prediction proved to be true. Halley's comet has been seen by people as it passed Earth every 76 years since at least 240 B.C. The last time Halley's comet came by the Earth was 1986. Ask: According to Edmond Halley's prediction, when will Halley's comet swing past Earth again? (1986 + 76 years or 2062) Ask: How old will you be when Halley's comet returns? (2062-1998'64; student's present age plus 64 years) Point out that in 1986 scientists sent a spacecraft into the tail of the comet to take pictures and readings. They are very interested in studying what materials are in comets because comets are the frozen remains of the cloud that formed the solar system billions of years ago. If available, read "Comets" from Space Songs to the students and show them the illustration.

Read aloud to the students "Secrets" from Space Songs. Tell the students that there are many secrets or mysteries about the universe that astronomers would like to solve. One major mystery is: Why are all the galaxies rushing outward away from one another? Tell the students that when astronomers look at galaxies out in space, they see that everything is moving away from us. The universe is spreading out and getting bigger. Show the students the balloon with dots on it. Have them imagine that the dots are galaxies and the balloon is the universe. Ask them to watch what happens as the "universe" expands. Blow up the balloon. Ask: What happened to the dots or galaxies? (They spread apart, away from each other.) Tell the students that a theory or idea that might explain the expanding of the universe is called the Big Bang theory. Many astronomers think that the universe was formed 15 billion years ago in a gigantic explosion called the Big Bang. Before the Big Bang there was nothing--just a tiny point of energy. When that tiny point of energy exploded, it began a chain reaction. Everything including stars, galaxies, planets, moons, asteroids, comets, meteors and all matter and energy in the universe, including all life on Earth, was created in the chain reaction that started 15 billion years ago with the Big Bang. The force of that explosion is still pushing matter out into the emptiness and expanding the universe.

Ask: What is the biggest explosion you have ever seen? (Accept all answers.) When something explodes, what happens to it? (It is blown apart so pieces fly out.) What do you think the Big Bang might have looked like? Have students create illustrations of the Big Bang or write a "space song" describing the Big Bang. Collect pictures and poems for a bulletin board or display entitled 15 billion years ago...The Big Bang!
 
 

Third Grade - Science - Lesson 46 - Astronomy
 
 

Objectives

List qualities that would make a good astronaut.
Describe how a balloon and the Space Shuttle obey laws of motion.
 
 

Materials

Pictures of the Space Shuttle and a Space Shuttle launch from Suggested Books

Picture of Mae Jemison from Suggested Books

A balloon

A ball or marble

Newton's Laws written on the board or posted : A. Objects put in motion tend to stay in motion; B. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
 
 

Suggested Books

Baird, Anne. Space Camp. New York: Morrow, 1992. Follows children as they learn about Mission Control and simulations of space travel.

Branley, Franklyn. Floating in Space. New York: HarperCollins, 1998. Explains in detail how astronauts deal with everyday life while weightless. Includes illustrations of space beds, space suits and even space toilets.

Burns, Khephra and William Miles. Black Stars in Orbit: NASA's African-American Astronauts. New York: Harcourt, 1994. Tells the story of the discrimination African-Americans had to overcome to be included in the space program. Includes black and white photos of astronauts.

Butterfield, Moira. Space. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1994. Includes cross-sections of the space shuttle, an astronaut's space suit and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Campbell, Peter. Launch Day. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook, 1995. This book focuses on the preparation, launch and return of the Atlantis space shuttle with very appealing color illustrations.

Jackson, Garnet Nelson. Mae Jemison, Astronaut. New York: Modern Curriculum, 1994.

Mayes, Susan. What's Out in Space? New York: Usborne, 1990. Pages 16 and 17 include illustrations and diagrams of the space shuttle and a sequence showing how it is blasted into space and how it lands.

Mullane, R. Mike. Lift Off! An Astronaut's Dream. New York: Silver Burdett, 1994. Astronaut Mike Mullane tells about his training and his shuttle mission.

Sakurai, Gail. Mae Jemison: Space Scientist. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1995.

Simon, Seymour. How to Be a Space Scientist in Your Own Home. New York: HarperCollins, 1982. Includes cartoons, activities and information about gravity.

Skurzynski, Gloria. Zero Gravity. New York: Bradbury, 1994. Describes weightlessness and how it effects life on the space shuttle.

Yannuzi, Della. Mae Jemison: A Space Biography. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Enslow, 1998.
 
 

Teacher Resource

Odyssey: Science That's Out of this World. Peterborough, NH: Cobblestone Publishing. (603) 924-7209. This magazine contains articles dealing with everything from weightlessness and space diets to new discoveries and optics.
 
 

Websites

http://www.kidsat.ucsd.edu/kidsat/

A NASA-sponsored program to allow students to explore Earth from space by monitoring a video camera on the space shuttle.
 
 

http://www.starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov

Another NASA site offering a "learning center for young astronauts" with answers to questions about black holes, the Big Bang theory and biographies of astronauts including Mae Jemison.
 
 

Teacher Note

Write or post Newton's Laws of Motion on the board before the class. A short biography

of Dr. Mae Jemison is on pages 307 and 308 in What Your Second Grader Needs to Know. Students can write to Dr. Mae Jemison at The Jemison Group, P.O. Box 591455, Houston, TX 77259-1455. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope to receive a response.
 
 

Procedure

Show the students pictures of the Space Shuttle from Suggested Books. If available, read aloud from Floating in Space by Franklyn Branley. Point out that when the Space Shuttle is orbiting the Earth, there is almost zero gravity so that people and objects float. They are weightless. Ask: Why must astronauts wear special suits when they go outside the Space Shuttle to take a space walk? (There is no air in space. The suit provides oxygen. It is very, very cold in space. The suit keeps the astronaut warm. There is no sound in space. There are radio communicators in the suits so astronauts can talk to each other.) Tell the students that astronauts on the Space Shuttle are not just passengers. They have jobs to do. They must maneuver the spacecraft, take space walks to repair satellites, operate the Shuttle's robotic arm to load and unload equipment from the cargo bay, conduct experiments, communicate regularly with mission control on Earth, operate computers on board the spacecraft, take pictures of Earth, keep the tiny space where they live and work in perfect order. Remind the students that when objects on the Space Shuttle are not put away, they do not stay in one place. They float around and can be lost or hit someone in the head. Ask: If you were in charge of selecting people for astronaut training, what qualities would you look for? Make a list on the board. (Possible answers might include works well with others, is able to communicate well, likes to learn new things, is comfortable in a small space for a long time, likes adventure, likes to do experiments, enjoys flying, puts things where they belong, can follow directions, keeps cool in an emergency situation.)

Show the students a picture of Dr. Mae Jemison from Suggested Books. Tell them that she was the first African-American female astronaut. Tell them that when Dr. Jemison was growing up she was very interested in science. She studied hard and was such a good student that she won a scholarship to Stanford University in California when she was only 16 years old. She earned a degree in chemical engineering and then a medical degree. She worked as a doctor in California and in Africa until 1987 when she was selected for astronaut training. She trained for five years before her first flight on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. When she blasted into orbit in September 1992, she became the first African-American woman in space. She served as the Science Mission Specialist on the flight and studied the effects of weightlessness on animals and humans. When she retired as an astronaut, Dr. Jemison had spent 240 hours in space. Today Dr.

Jemison teaches college and works on projects such as an international science camp for kids and a program to improve health care in Africa. Her hobbies are jazz dancing, photography, and skiing. Dr Jemison has also enjoyed being an actress. She appeared on an episode of the T.V. show Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Ask: How does the Space Shuttle get into space? (It is blasted into space with booster rockets.) Show the students pictures of a shuttle being launched and point out the booster rockets. Point out that it takes great force to push a spacecraft fast enough to escape the Earth's gravity. After the rocket is in orbit, it stays in motion without using booster rockets or engines. Point out the two laws of motion on the board. Have a student read them aloud. Ask the students to think about these laws as you launch a balloon. Blow up a balloon and pinch the end to keep the air from escaping. Ask: How can I launch this balloon? (Let it go.) What do you think will happen when I let it go? (It will fly around until the air runs out.) Draw a balloon on the board. Ask a student to come up and draw an arrow to show which way the air inside the balloon will move when you let go of the balloon. Have another student come up and draw an arrow to show in which direction the balloon will move when you let it go. Point out that the air rushing out of the balloon is an action. The balloon moving in the opposite direction is an equal and opposite reaction. Ask: Which of these laws do you think the balloon launch will demonstrate? (B) Launch the balloon. Ask: How is the balloon like a booster rocket? (Rocket fuel makes an action and the equal and opposite reaction pushes the rocket up into the air.) Ask the students to think about the first law of motion (A). Roll a ball or marble across the desk. Ask: How does the ball obey this law of motion? (Once it is moving, it keeps moving.) Remind the students that once the Space Shuttle is in orbit, it moves through space where there is no air. There are no air molecules to rub against the shuttle and slow it down so it keeps moving, even without a rocket to push it.

 Additional Activity

 Objective

Create balloon rockets and demonstrate two laws of motion.

 Materials

For each group of five students: a sausage-shaped balloon, 8 feet of string, paper and crayons, a drinking straw, scissors, masking tape
 
 

Procedure

Divide the students into groups and distribute materials. Point out that by sliding the string through the straw and attaching a balloon, they can make a balloon rocket that will travel in a straight line and even carry a paper passenger. When the students are finished making rockets, have rocket races to see which rockets will move the fastest or travel the farthest.
 
 

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*Required or strongly suggested for lessons