5th Grade Science Unit 8

Vermilion Parish Schools "Connecting Students, Home and Schools"

Activity 5: Comparing and Contrasting Characteristics of Inner Planets and Outer Planets (SI GLEs: 3, 7, 19, 22; ESS GLEs: 43)

Materials List: Planetary Research BLM from Activity 4, Planet Comparison BLM, white butcher or bulletin board paper, Pluto Opinionnaire BLM

Have students use data collected from Activity 4 to compare and contrast the characteristics of inner and outer planets. Use the literacy strategy, graphic organizer (view literacy strategy descriptions), to create a Venn diagram that can be used in comparing characteristics of both types of planets with Earth. A graphic organizer is a tool that provides the learner with two avenues to memory—verbal (the text) and spatial (the placement of information in relation to other facts)

Students can use the same Planetary Research BLM from Activity 4 to gather information. Student pairs should share collected data between themselves and, then, create a Venn diagram showing the similarities and differences between the two types of planets.  A sample Venn diagram template or teachers can use the Planet Comparison BLM for comparisons.  Have students use the Venn diagram that they create to record findings and then create large Venn diagrams on white butcher paper to share with the class. After all groups have presented, have students summarize the major differences and similarities noted between all groups of inner and outer planets and how each type compares to Earth. Encourage students to utilize what was learned in Activity 4 about Earth and, also Unit 6 (Earth and the Atmosphere), to classify it as an inner or outer planet.

To help students become critical thinkers of what they read and to force them to take a position and defend it, use the Opinionnaire literacy strategy (view literacy strategy descriptions). The emphasis is on students’ point of view and not the “correctness” of their opinions. Have students work in small groups to read and discuss each statement, then write down the reasons for their opinions. They should rely partly on the information they received in the previous activity. Provide students with the Pluto Opinionnaire BLM.  After students have completed the opinionnaire and discussed what they have written, explain to students that Pluto recently was removed from the list of planets and is now considered a “dwarf planet” due to the fact that it has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit. In other words, it is not, by far, the dominant mass in its region of space; it has not cleared its neighborhood of all other significant masses through its gravitational pull; and it is not composed of the accumulation of most of the debris in its orbit. Read an article (dwarf planet) about the debate that is still ongoing from the website and then allow students to revisit their opinionnaires to see if they would like to change their opinions.

Lesson Plans/Resources:

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