Is There Life Out There?

byMarty Cummings

Space is a difficult concept to teach middle grades students. In this unit students will deepen their understanding about the solar system, galaxy, and universe. They will compare our sun to other stars and extend their understanding of the motion of the solar system to include its motion within our galaxy. Students will extend their understanding of planets and stars to include the overview, structure, and age of the universe. They will continue to develop their scientific inquiry skills by gathering and synthesizing information from teacher recommended websites and other sources about how planetary systems and stars form and then explaining how stars produce energy.

Throughout this unit, students will continue to develop scientific habits of mind by considering and discussing the limitations of scientific knowledge about the universe gained from the use of technology. In particular, they consider the changes in our understanding of the universe throughout history and as a function of our use of technology. The major thrust of this unit is to have my students work towards mastering critical thinking skills. Throughout this unit multiple assessment techniques such as writing, group work, discussions, demonstration models, and real life problem solving will be used to assess student mastery of material presented.

(Recommended for Earth Science, grades 6-8.)


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