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Educational resources needed for 5th graders

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dkaakd

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This relates to another msg posted by I_I_E. I need to locate some educational resources so I can work with a group of 5th graders. Ideally, I would like some animations (Flash format??) or pre-made PowerPoints that show the orbital paths of the planets around the Sun. Does anyone have any links where I may be able to download some information like this?<br /><br />I also want to do a field project showing the size and distance of our Solar System. My thought was to make a scaled down sun from something the size of a beach ball and then make the planets from other materials. I was thinking that I could have the class work in groups to try to determine how far from the Sun each planet should be. Then place models in the scaled down locations where they should actually be (at average distance from the Sun). The park that adjoins our school is about 150 yards long so I need to figure out the correct scale/distance based on that so I can determine how far each planet should be and how large each planet should be. <br /><br />Any ideas or assistance is much appreciated.<br />
 
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heyscottie

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You don't have enough room!<br /><br />You have about 450 feet to work with. Let's let 10 feet by 1 astronomical unit (AU), or about 93 million miles.<br /><br />Put the sun at one end of the field.<br /><br />Pluto, at ~39.5 AU orbital radius, would be 395 feet away.<br /><br />Earth, at 1 AU, would be 10 feet away.<br /><br />Mercury, at .38 AU, would be 3.8 feet away.<br /><br />This is all fine, but you can't also put in scaled models of the planets themselves. The Earth, for example, would have to be less than .01 inches in diameter -- about a grain of sand. The Sun itself would be just under 1 inch in diameter.<br /><br />You'll need to split it up into two models. The first can show relative distances, and another will show relative sizes. But you can't do both at once! This is, of course, in and of itself, an excellent teaching opportunity to demonstrate the size ratios...<br /><br />By the way, check out Wikipedia and search for "solar system" for excellent info on planetary orbits, sizes, etc.
 
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dkaakd

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I think that's a great idea (split it into two scales). Since size and distance are such difficult concepts for kids to grasp this may be the best way to go.
 
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CalliArcale

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This may not be relevant to your current project, but it may be useful for other projects aimed at this age range. An acapella group called "The Chromatics" (made up of actual NASA scientists and other geeks from the DC area) came out with an album called "AstroCapella". It includes study materials with each of the science-themed songs. I have a copy, and it's a lot of fun to listen to.<br /><br />http://www.astrocappella.com/ <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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tony873004

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I was amazed once when I thought about how large Earth would have to be if I were to make a scale model of the solar system in my kitchen. I did the math and realized that Earth would be microscopic, and the Sun barely not microscopic. <br /><br />For tracing the paths of the planets, you could use my program, Gravity Simulator ( www.gravitysimulator.com ). There's some simulations that come with the program that show the solar system to scale. The simulation "onlyplanets.gsim" which is included in the download opens with view of the solar system from an angle. Using the scroll bars, you can change this angle to view from straight down or from the side. Zooming in and out with the Screen Scale buttons will give you a good sense of size.<br /><br />There's also a simulation called "fullsystem.gsim" that comes with the download. This starts with a top down view of the solar system and contains all the planets, lots of moons, asteroids, comets and spacecraft. You can center the view on any object you want, zoom in, zoom out, press L to turn on or off labels so you can see what each object is, press T to turn on or off Trails so the objects trace their orbits. <br /><br />Gravity Simulator received a small write-up in the August 2005 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine on page 88.
 
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joshbe

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Oh come on.... Someone else who doesn't know how to do a powerpoint! Im not saying you shouldn't download it, but wouldn't it be cool to teach them the distances, then teach them how make a correctly scaled powerpoint, possibly adding animated orbit paths?,
 
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dkaakd

Guest
First of all thanks for all the replies. I am checking the links and gathering the materials needed. It looks like this is something we will tackle in October. Second, and just for the record, I didn’t say I don’t know how to use Power Point. In fact my undergrad is in Computer Science and I use Power Point on a weekly basis. I would rate myself as a power user on all MS office products. I am also capable of programming in C#, Java, C++, VB, and even Cobol should the need ever arise again but lets hope it doesn’t... <br /><br />That said, since I have limited time I would prefer to download as much a possible. I think it may be a bit much to ask a classroom full of 5th graders to do power point animations that really look better in flash (IMHO). My experience is that kids that age learn best in a hands-on environment. If we can build models of the planets and get outside to experience some of the distances we are discussing, that has more educational value than sitting in front of a computer for most of the students. <br />
 
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dkaakd

Guest
An astronomy class set to music. Wow! Now I really have seen everything. <br /><br />Think of the possibilities:<br /><br />Puff the ring nebula<br />I left my heart in Orion's belt<br />Vega on my mind<br />Get your kicks on route to M66<br /><br />Seriously though, I love it! <br /><br />Thanks for the link this is too cool.
 
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