Thursday, November 27, 2014

Comparing Planet Sizes Activity

Just finished this fun astronomy activity with my 3rd graders - we used playground balls to compare planet sizes! I found 8 bouncy balls to represent each planet:

I should have brought in one of those giant exercise balls to use as the sun! Just thought of it now, I'll have to add it to the lesson plan for next year. I tell my students some  interesting planet facts such as:

-Jupiter is so large that all of the planets could fit inside of it & there would still be room for more!
-Earth & Venus are called the twins because they're similar in size
-Mars could fit inside of the Earth!
-1000 Earths could fit inside of Jupiter
-1000 Jupiters could fit inside the sun - this means 1,000,000 Earths could fit inside the sun!

I know it is hard for my kids to visualize the enormous sizes of the planets. Showing them teeny, tiny Earth compared to giant Jupiter really helps them to imagine the size differences. The activity I created involves finding the circumference of each ball (in centimeters of course because scientists always use the metric system!) & then using those numbers along with some clues to figure out which ball represents which planet. They loved this activity!

I was inspired by these pictures that I found on Pinterest- I have no idea what the original source is - if anyone knows, please let me know!!

First I show my students how Earth is larger than Mars, Venus, Mercury, & Dwarf Planet Pluto:

Earth looks pretty big in that picture but take a look at the picture below, Earth is minuscule compared to the 4 gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, & Neptune!
Jupiter looks huge! Until you compare it to the sun:

The sun is the most massive object in our solar system but it really is a medium size star (called a yellow dwarf)- tiny when compared to a huge star such as the orange giant Arcturus, found in the constellation Bo├Âtes:
The red supergiant Antares (found in the constellation Scorpius) dwarfs Arcturus & our sun is a tiny pixel in the picture below!

I love these pictures that I found on The Atlantic website:
Our moon is approximately 240,000 miles away. Mars is about 250 million miles away. What if Mars was as close to Earth as the moon? Here's what we would see when we look up at night:

Imagine if Neptune, which is actually 2.7 BILLION miles away, was only 240,000 miles away? How cool would it be to walk outside your front door & see this at night??!!

Jupiter & Saturn are 365 million miles and 746 million miles away respectively, but they are so massive, here's what they would look like in the night sky if they were as close as our moon:

Amazing, right?!!! I love astronomy!!! If you're looking for astronomy lesson plans and hands-on activities for your kids, click on the pics below:

I have to close this post with one of my favorite quotes from American author Henry Van Dyke. He taught English lit at Princeton University right here in good 'ol NJ:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tsu, new social media platform

I'm inviting you to use a new social media platform called Tsu (pronounced "sue"). It is just like Facebook with one big difference - the creators are going to share a portion of the money they receive from advertisers with those who generate content (us!) It is free to join but you need an invite, click on my link: 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Lunar Eclipse! Oct. 8th, Wednesday - Look up!

Lunar eclipses are beautiful!  Wednesday morning, before sunrise, you can watch the moon pass inside the shadow of the Earth. The moon will turn an eerie shade of red. Totality begins at 6:26 AM, EST.  I'll be using my phone's video camera to record the event so I can show my students. The next lunar eclipse is in April 2015 so remember to look up Wednesday morning!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Kindergarten NGSS - Weather Forecast Fun!

I just completed my weather packet, “What’s theForecast?”  & I’m so excited to do the activities with my Kindergarteners! 

I wrote this lesson plan to address one of the Weather & Climate Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for Kindergarten, specifically:

K-ESS3-2:  Ask questions to obtain information about the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather.

Talking about severe weather with young children can be a little tricky I don’t want to scare them but I want to make sure they understand the importance of why we prepare for severe weather. I found a great picture book to be used as an intro and in conjunction with my lesson plan. It allows me to cover the importance of weather forecasting, it discusses a specific type of severe weather (a blizzard), and it shows how important it is to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather -- everything I need to address the K-ESS3 2 standard! The title of the book is Freddy the Frogcaster and the Big Blizzard. It’s written by meteorologist, Janice Dean.
Janice Dean, known as the "Weather Machine", is a meteorologist on Fox News Channel. She is the mother of 2 young boys and has written this book to introduce young children to the science behind blizzards and chilly weather patterns. It tells the story of an adorable little frog who loves to forecast the weather. He knows how to prepare for a blizzard and he tries to help his friends do the same. The illustrations in the book are adorable! Can you use this lesson plan for your kinders? I'll send out a free packet to the first 2 who comment below!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Freebie! Science and Cultural Diversity

  Use this to emphasize cultural diversity - your students will learn about scientists from all over the world – both male and female. I send this home as a research assignment but it can be done in class if you have internet access. I have my students share their knowledge with the class and then we create a bulletin board (photo included). You can have your students pick a scientist or you can assign them a scientist. Possible scientists included. I did this with my second graders last year as a part of our cultural diversity curriculum - they had a great time learning about their individual scientist and they loved presenting their info to the class!! You can pick up this freebie by clicking here or on any of the photos below. 


Friday, August 1, 2014

Jersey Girls Blogger Meet Up!

I have finally met another teacher (actually 10 other teachers!!) that blog and are also TpT ( sellers!

It was so great meeting up with these talented ladies & hearing about their blogging & TpT ideas & experiences. Click below to visit their stores!

Left side of the table bottom to top: 

Right side bottom to top:
Lauren Kenny - Lauren Kenny
Maria - Jersey Teacher

We start school here after Labor Day. Hope you're enjoying the rest of summer! Or if you already started your school year, hope you have a great one!
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