Embark with your students on a space webquest you can use in your fifth grade science classroom. Webquests engage students so that
they are better able to retain the information they learn. At the end of the activity, students will have the opportunity to provide direct feedback.
A solar system consists of the Sun and the celestial bodies which are bound to its field of gravity. These celestial bodies include asteroids, meteors, satellites or moons, comets and planets. The planets in our solar system each have their own distinct characteristics, some of which are directly related to their distance from the Sun.
A Journey Into Space Without Leaving the Classroom
Unfortunately, you cannot actually travel through space, because you are still in the 5th grade! Space Webquest activities can simulate a space odyssey, though. Through this webquest, you will collect information about each of the planets’ unique characteristics, and then use that data to create a series of postcards about your travels. You will want to use a notebook to take notes during your journey, and you may find that creating a chart is the best way to organize your data. Before you begin, however, it is important that you learn more about the solar system and what constitutes a planet.
1. How do scientists believe the solar system was formed?
2. What are the three characteristics needed to be labeled a planet?
3. Based on this information, how many true planets are in our solar system?
4. What shape name would define the orbit of the planets around the Sun?
Exploring the Planets
1. What is the order of the planets according to their distance from the Sun?
2. What are the stats for each planet? This includes:
- Distance from the sun
- Length of a year
- Length of day
- Average temperature
- How much you would weigh if you were visiting that planet
Keep in mind, you will need to click on “Stats” for information about each planet.
3. What are some other interesting facts about each planet?
4. Now that you have learned more about each planet, how would you order the planets by mass? Here is a fun game to see if you are right.
Once you have collected data for each of the planets, you will create a series of postcards using a virtual postcard creator. There will be one postcard for each planet you have visited. On the front of your postcard will be in image depicting the planet. The photo will be added after the postcard has been printed. This may be original artwork, traced or copied artwork, or images printed from the web and secured with glue. Keep in mind that you will be prompted to write an image title and brief description of your image, so give this some thought ahead of time — before you begin creating your postcard. Also included with your postcard should be five to eight facts about the planet. These will be taken directly from your previous research, and the notes that you maintained or the chart you created. Do not simply list the facts. Incorporate them into the body of your postcard naturally — as if you were having a conversation with someone about what you learned or saw on your journey.
In addition to the facts and image, postcards will be graded for appropriate writing conventions like spelling, punctuation and capitalization.
Based on the information you collected during your journey to the various planets, which planet was your favorite? Send me an email explaining your selection and why.
- Image: Solar System by NASA under Public Domain