Image Source – from news.com.au and Discovery Channel
Stephen Hawking is a famous British physicist who has just finished producing a new documentary series called “Into the Universe”. It premiers on the Discovery channel this weekend, after three years in-the-making. He believes that, according to mathematical probabilities, aliens are almost certain to exist and he has used the latest computer graphics to show what they may look like. His images are based on the climate and environmental conditions of various planets, including the gas giants, planets colder than -150C and those with cold, salty seas. You can see a gallery of some of pictures at news.com.au.
Your task for this unit of science is to create a multimedia product that shows your understanding of our solar system and the environmental conditions on one of the planets. You will be assessed on your presentation, organisation and accuracy of information, references cited and how effectively you use your time in class. You may like to use the alien you have drawn in Art to produce a “Blabberise“, explaining the conditions on one of the planets.
This week we celebrated the Winter Solistice, the “shortest day of the year”, when the earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun. In the southern hemisphere, this is June 20th or 21st, when the sun rises later and sets earlier than any other day of the year.Check out “Astronomy Connections” for an interactive explanation of the seasons.
Next term, Year 6 and 7 students will be starting a unit of work on our solar system. This 6 minute YouTube video from the Hayden Planetarium and American Museum includes every satellite, moon, planet, star and galaxy in the Known Universe. Anyone with an iPod Touch can install the following applications to help them to learn about our Solar System (Thanks Jenny Ashby for your comment!)
- 8Planets – animations, information and quiz about our solar system
- Planets by Q continium – A 3D guide to the solar system for aspiring astronomers.
- Grand Tour 3D – Space travel on a budget
- planetFacts – size and distance scale and dictionary
- NASA app including images, videos, information about launches, when you can sight, orbit trackers and countdown clocks.
- Stars by Nelix displaying 88 constellations – does not use network.
- Star Walk ($2.99) 5 stars astronomy guide
- Space Images by NASA – You can rate, email and save images.
- Star map ($11.99) Planetarium in your hand with 350,000 stars!
- ABC TV has a free vodcast “Voyage to the Planets” that you can download or subscribe to.
- Don’t forget Stellarium on your netbooks
- Celestia (space simulation) is another free (Open Source) download for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.
Students will have a choice of activities including:
- Write a postcard “Back to Earth” about the conditions on one of the planets around our sun.
- Write a brochure for tourists about space travel.
- Use “Voicethread” , “Powerpoint” or “Photostory” to describe our solar system to aliens from ‘outer space’.
- A 60-second science video advertising one of the planets as a tourist destination
- Create a digital story about the planet you would most like to visit and how you would survive there.
- Use “Blabberise” to record an alien invader’s report back to his home planet about the Earth’s solar system.
Year 7 students have read and answered revision questions from Chapter 8: Our Place in Space while I have been away on Rubicon camp last week. Our first activity when I return will be to list as many things as you can that you might find in space in an alphabet brainstorm – A (astronaut, asteroid); B (betelgeuse, Big bang) etc. Then go to this poster and identify objects in our observable universe.
Your assessment task for this unit will be to create a postcard from one of the eight planets, describing the conditions there – temperature, climate, day and year length, distance from the earth, number of moons and any other interesting information. Pretend you have travelled there on a space mission and you are writing a postcard back to earth. Make sure you include an image of your planet. You could use Flickr (creative commons) or the NASA website to search for images. The free poster from the Herald Sun on Monday July 13th may be useful for this.
Have you ever wondered about your learning style – how you learn best? The Edutopia blog has an on-line Learning Styles quiz – 25 questions, takes less than 5 minutes to complete and gives you a % rating for each of eight types of learner (visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, intrapersonal, interpersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, naturalistic).