Lesson plan

Exploring our Solar System

Various selections of activities that investigate the scale of our solar system, how rockets take off, how gravity assist works and what crater features can tell us about the geology of a planet.
Science content
Physics: Motion and Forces, Newton’s Laws, Gravity (K, 2, 6)
Earth/Space: Sun, Moon, Solar System, Universe (1, 4, 6)
Earth/Space: Extreme Environments, Space Exploration (6)

This lesson had different activities for primaries and intermediates.

To explore the solar system we send unmanned rockets that are carrying probes. For our experiment, here is our rocket! (Blow up balloon and let off.) The physics of how it moves is the same as a real rocket. Balloon rocket activity along a string. Add pennies and record distance moved, then discuss how the weight of the fuel is a significant part of the mass of a rocket.
The rockets carry probes into the solar system which take photos and measurements of the planets they reach. The pictures of planet surfaces help us understand the climate and history of the planets. The feature most commonly seen on planets, and on their moons, are craters. Crater formation activity.

Our solar system is a blip in the universe, but even our solar system is enormous. We will make a Solar System to scale to give you a sense of the size of the solar system and the planets in it.
To learn about the planets in our solar system rockets take off from earth carrying probes. Once rockets escape earth’s gravity, the gravity of the sun and the planets is used to alter the path and speed of a spacecraft, to send it within and beyond the solar system. Gravity assist activity.
The images that we get back from probes of the surface of planets help us understand the geology and history of the planets and their moons. Craters are the dominant feature on many solid Solar System objects. We’ll model crater formation to see what the features of craters can tell us about a planet's surface.

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6
Gr 7
Teaching Site
Brock Elementary
Dorothy Lynas Elementary
ingridscience afterschool
Maple Grove Elementary
McBride Elementary
Tyee Elementary