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Asteroid Zoo Course Module

The Solar System consists of the Sun, planets, moons, asteroids, meteors, comets, dust, gases and primarily empty space. These lessons allow students to engage in the scientific community of astronomers; students will be looking for asteroids using real scientific data collected by the Catalina Sky Survey. This module of lessons will be best used as an extension to a space unit.

Objectives for Day 1: Why study asteroids?

This lesson will engage students to look for asteroids, show the importance of their research, and how it could impact the planet.

  • Students will read an article about the importance of studying and tracking meteors.
  • Students will observe how to navigate the Asteroid Zoo website.

Objectives for Day 2: Asteroid Zoo Citizen Science Participation

In this lesson the students participate in a citizen science project looking for asteroids. The data that the students report on the Asteroid Zoo website is sent back to scientists. If an asteroid they found has already been documented, the website will let the students know.

  • Students will look for asteroids through the Asteroid Zoo website.

Objectives for Day 3: Meteorite Lab

In this lesson, the students participate in a lab that shows the impact of meteorites with Earth’s surface. This lesson is to insure the students are more invested in searching for asteroids once they understand the actual impact that meteorites can have on Earth’s surface.

  • Students will conduct a lab using simple kitchen ingredients to see how meteorites impact Earth’s surface.

Objectives for Day 4 and 5: Student Impact on Meteorites

In this lesson, the students will create with a public service announcement or write a persuasive letter persuading their congressman or women to fund searching for asteroids.

  • Students will create a public service announcement or a persuasive letter, persuading their congressman or women to fund searching for asteroids.

Asteroid Zoo Project Page

Academic Standards Addressed

Next Generation Science Standards

MS-ESS1-3 – Analyze and interpret data to determine scale properties of objects in the solar system.

Common Core

6.SL.1 – Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others‟ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

NC Essential Standards

6.E.1.2 – Eight planets of very different size, composition, and surface features move around the sun in nearly circular orbits. Some planets have a variety of moons and even flat rings of rock and ice particles orbiting around them. Some of these planets and moon show evidence of geologic activity. The earth is orbited by one moon, many artificial satellites, and debris. The Solar System consists of the Sun, planets, moons, asteroids, meteors, comets, dust, gases and primarily empty space. The Sun is the major source of heat and light for the solar system. Everything in the solar system is under the direct influence of the Sun’s gravitational pull. Planets are the largest objects in the solar system and due to the Sun’s gravitational pull, they revolve around the sun with known frequencies. Atmosphere is a layer of air, made up of many layers and gases that surround the Earth’s surface keeping humans safe from the sun’s radiation. The Earth formed in just the right place with just the right ingredients for life to flourish. Our planet has liquid water, a breathable atmosphere and a suitable amount of sunshine to sustain life.

6.E.1.3 – Space exploration has allowed humans to learn much about the workings of the solar system, the composition of planets and moons, and the effects of many types of solar radiation on the Earth and its inhabitants. In preparing for the challenges of space exploration, people have developed tools and products that have become very important in enriching our lives. Humans have traveled to the moon, landed probes on Mars and Venus, and sent probes speeding past Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. An International Space Station, through the joint effort of many countries, was built to allow space to be studied continually. We also had the Hubble Telescope built so scientists could learn much more about the uniqueness of Earth and its place in our solar system and universe. Scientists have also learned that there are millions of galaxies in space, each containing solar systems. Many of our modern conveniences such as microwaves and hand held calculators are the result of products developed for use in the space program. The Chandra X-ray Observatory is part of NASA’s fleet of “Great Observatories” along with the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitizer Space Telescope and the now de-orbited Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. Chandra allows scientists from around the world to obtain X-ray images of exotic environments to help understand the structure and evolution of the universe. Other telescopes, such as the Fermi-Gamma-ray Space Telescope has unveiled a previously unseen structure centered in the Milky Way. The feature spans 50,000 light-years and may be the remnant of an eruption from a supersized black hole at the center of our galaxy.