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Planetary Properties: A Systems Perspective


With support from the National Science Foundation, the Earth and Space Science Partnership (ESSP) was established to develop a collaborative relationship among scientists, education researchers, middle school teachers, and high school teachers. One set of goals of ESSP is to improve teacher content knowledge, quality of teacher instruction, and student academic achievement around the big idea of the solar system and its formation. Because research through ESSP revealed that many students have a limited understanding of planetary properties and how the planets can be grouped by these properties, a lesson was developed to help support teachers in teaching this material to their students.

The lesson described in this article addresses Earth's place in the universe (MS-ESS1-3) by focusing on the Earth and the Solar System (ESS1.B) disciplinary core idea from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States 2013). Students will engage in the scientific practices of Analyzing and Interpreting Data and Engaging in Argument From Evidence using astronomical data (NGSS Lead States 2013).