Rosemarie Ganser and Leonard Bellinger
TECHNOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY take off at Fontbonne Hall Academy High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., with this Internet-focused science lesson. Students not only learn about the solar system as a whole, but are better able to visualize the planets through close-up images of different features.
Lesson description: This workshop familiarizes students with the solar system, major planets and their features and general planetary research by visiting various resources on the Internet. They learn that each planet has unique and identifiable features, some planets have common features, and images can be used to study the planets and their features. Students take notes in a journal and share their observations and findings with others.
Students first learn about the solar system itself, including the features of the major planets at the-solar- system.net. After reading about the nine planets, students should be able to describe:
• The main components of our solar system
• What are the details of each planet, such as shapes, patterns and colors?
• Is it bright or dark, smooth or rough, solid, liquid or gas?
• What characteristics help you recognize this planet?
Next, students research solar images at the Solarviews Web site at www.solarviews.com/eng/homepage.htm. They are asked to select 10 images to study and describe, taking notes and answering the following questions in their journals.
• What does the image actually show?
• List the planet, describe what you see and what special features does the image show about this planet?
• Are there any common patterns or features? List common features of groups of planets.
Subject area: This lesson plan is for high-school science students, with an emphasis in astronomy and earth science.
Standards: This lesson incorporates two New York State learning standards in the mathematics, science and technology category, including Standard 1: analysis, inquiry and design and Standard 2: information systems. Standard 1 requires students to use scientific inquiry to pose questions, seek answers and develop solutions. Standard 2 requires them to access, generate, process and transfer information using appropriate technologies.
Resources: Students will need access to a computer lab and a journal for notes and observations.
Assessment for this workshop is through participation and through the collection of data and findings in the form of a written document or journal. Grading for the written assignment is based on content, clarity, and mechanics and composes about 60 percent of the grade. Forty percent of the grade is based on participation and includes three elements: class discussion, completing the task on time and group work.
To help save time, create hyperlinks as part of the instruction/description for all Web sites that you are referring students to in the lesson.
Rosemarie Ganser is the technology teacher at Fontbonne Hall Academy High School, an all-girls Catholic school in Brooklyn, N.Y. She collaborated with Leonard Bellinger, the school’s art and astronomy teacher, to create this lesson.