Students will understand the following:
The entire class will require research materials on the solar system, in addition to a computer with Internet access to aid their research. The following materials should be distributed to each group:
Younger students will need help figuring out how to determine the size of the clay Earth model and the model Earth-to-moon distance.
You can evaluate groups on their models using the following three-point rubric:
Three points: groups develop successful plans for determining scale, size, and distance; model accurately constructed to scale
Two points: groups need help developing plans for determining scale, size, and distance; model accurately constructed to scale
One point: group unable to develop plan for determining scale, size, and distance; model inaccurately constructed
Scale of Flight
Monarch butterflies are known for the great distances of their migration flights. How do these tiny, lightweight fliers succeed? Divide the class into groups of three students. Have each student outline on notebook paper and cut out a shape approximating that of a monarch butterfly with its wings spread. Instruct students to tape an open paper clip in the center to represent the body weight. Each student per group will do one of three experiments (repeating it five times) as the data is captured on a group record sheet. These trials include (1) dropping the butterfly from shoulder height, (2) dropping the butterfly from shoulder height while standing in front of a fan, and (3) dropping a wet (splashed with water) "butterfly" from shoulder height.
The height from which the “b;tterfly" is dropped should be accurately measured and recorded. Data from each group should be averaged and added to a class data set posted on the board. Have students graph the experimental results, and then have a class discussion about what the data tell us about butterfly flight. What factors other than wing beating could affect butterfly flight?
Being the Right Size
Divide students into groups of four and give each student a different-sized and different-colored lump of modeling clay. Each student is to create a freestanding, four-legged animal from the clay only. Students are challenged to have their animals display realistic body proportions and to make them as tall as possible without falling over. At the completion of animal construction, each group should summarize for the class its conclusions about designing the "right-sized" animal.
Using the Internet, CD-ROMs, and traditional library resources, have students research the design and construction of a famous high-rise structure. A list of skyscraper projects, completed and under construction, can be found atInformation Please. Have students present their findings to the class by relaying information on the height, time to complete, amounts of materials, and overall cost of the skyscraper project. Presentations can include visual models, drawings, PowerPoint presentations, Web pages, or trifold (cardboard) representations of students' findings. Students can form cooperative groups to conduct research and present information.
Bugs of the World
George C. McGavin. Facts on File, 1993.
Did you know that bugs form a distinct order among insects and represent over 80,000 species found throughout the world? Reading this book will help you learn how to collect and classify bugs and also gives you information about their structure, diseases, enemies, defenses, food, mating, and interaction with people, which can be harmful, helpful, or benign.
The Science Times Book of Birds
Nicholas Wade, ed. Lyons Press, 1997.
Read the fascinating columns that have appeared in The New York Times' Science Times section written by award-winning journalists about birds around the world. Did you know that some birds measure the health of their mate by the symmetry of their tails and that not all birds mate for life?
Diatoms to Dinosaurs: The Size and Scale of Living Things
Chris McGowan. Island Press/Shearwater Books, 1994.
This is a wonderful book about evolution and mechanisms of organisms. Of course, you already know what a dinosaur is, but do you know what a diatom is? Read this book and find out! (Dictionary definition: numerous microscopic, single-celled marine or freshwater algae).
Cats' Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People
Steven Vogel. W.W. Norton & Co., 1998.
Explore and compare the fascinating world of biomechanics: nature's mechanical aspects in animals and in people. Read how living things work, walk, run, jump, fly, and grow and how size affects mechanics.
Skyscrapers: Form & Function
David Bennett. Simon & Schuster, 1995.
The beautiful photography in this book complements the text, which provides the history of skyscrapers around the world, tells of the creativity and engineering that helped erect them, and offers a look at "a day in the life" of a skyscraper.
Neil Stevenson. DK Publishing, 1997.
This beautifully illustrated book looks at the history of buildings around the world and how they reflect the societies that created them. The author believes that buildings reflect human nature, ingenuity, and the collaborative efforts used to build them.
The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report
Timothy Ferris. Simon & Schuster, 1997.
This book summarizes what we currently know about the universe but it also speculates about what we might know about the future. This is the field of cosmology, the study of the structure and history of the universe.
Astronomy: A Beginner's Guide to the Universe
Eric Chaisson and Steve McMillan. Prentice Hall, 1995.
This book provides descriptions about all aspects of astronomy. Want easy access to any topic on the universe? This is a great book to help you explore. Try answering the questions in the back of the book.
Petronas Twin Towers
Information and facts on the soon-to-be world's largest building, to be located in Malaysia.
Journey of a Lifetime: Magnificent Skyscrapers
An overview of the tallest buildings in the world with an Architectural Hall of Fame and interesting details about skyscrapers.
New York Sky Scrapers
Facts and figures dedicated to the New York's most famous skyscrapers are the essence of this site.
An Overview of the Solar System
A good overview of the Solar System that relates to the scale and magnitude of the system.
Size and Scale Activity
An activity for students that explains the scale of the solar system.
Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.
Context: Rockets could not go up without the energy and upward force of lift.
Context: He wore an armor breastplate to protect his pectoralis muscles during battle.
Context: Physiology is anatomy at work.
Context: The thistle down spun in a circle in midair as it was caught by the wind's vortices.
Context: The force of gravity made it hard to lift the heavy box and easy to drop it.
Context: A high proportion of his wages was used to pay rent while a small proportion was used to buy food.
Context: The volume of the crowd was too great to fit any more people inside the room.
Context: The systems engineer designs all the conduits take make the building a place where people can live and work, such as plumbing, water, and air conditioning.
Context: Skyscrapers have come to symbolize the ingenuity and excesses of our modern technological culture.
Context: One astronomical unit is equal to 93 million miles. It takes light a little over eight minutes to travel this distance.
Context: Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. Multiply this speed by the number of seconds in a minute, times the number of minutes in an hour, times the number of hours in a day, times the number of days in a year. The result is roughly 6 trillion miles. That distance is what astronomers call a light year.
This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: 6-8, 9-12
Subject area: science
Understands motion and the principles that explain it.
(6-8)Understands effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on an object's motion (e.g., if more than one force acts on an object along a straight line, then the forces will reinforce or cancel one another, depending on their direction and magnitude; unbalanced forces such as friction will cause changes in the speed or direction of an object's motion).
(9-12)Knows that laws of motion can be used to determine the effects of forces on the motion of objects (e.g., objects change their motion only when a net force is applied; whenever one object exerts force on another, a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction is exerted on the first object; the magnitude of the change in motion can be calculated using the relationship F=ma, which is independent of the nature of the force).
(9-12)Understands that science involves different types of work in many different disciplines (e.g., scientists in different disciplines ask different questions, use different methods of investigation, and accept different types of evidence to support their explanations; many scientific investigations require the contributions of individuals from different disciplines; new disciplines of science, such as geophysics and biochemistry, often emerge at the interface of older disciplines).
(9-12)Understands how scientific knowledge changes and accumulates over time (e.g., all scientific knowledge is subject to change as new evidence becomes available; some scientific ideas are incomplete and opportunity exists in these areas for new advances; theories are continually tested, revised, and occasionally discarded).
(9-12)Designs a solution or product, taking into account needs and constraints (e.g., cost, time, trade-offs, properties of materials, safety, aesthetics).
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