Teachers will find many resources to supplement their own space knowledge and curricula, from current events and historical timelines to scientist profiles. The site has a large multimedia library that can help spruce up lectures with vivid imagery and stunning computer animations. Teachers may also find it useful to assign some of the interactive Web animations to help deepen students’ understanding of the solar system and space exploration. In the kids' section, teachers can find instructions for making various types of planetary and spacecraft models, from simple to advanced.
In the Education section, teachers will find lesson plans on Earth science, astronomy, and astrophysics topics for grades K-12. Lessons are searchable by grade level, planetary body, or NASA mission using the Fast Lesson Finder tool. Many lesson plans include objectives, National Science Standards correlations, teaching tips, handouts, lesson wrap-ups, assessments, and extensions.Continue reading Show less
NASA: Solar System Exploration is designed to raise awareness of -- and teach about -- a variety of astronomical topics, including space news, NASA missions, scientist profiles, planets, and the history of space exploration. Although the site is well organized, the vast amount of information can be overwhelming at first glance. The site offers an impressive multimedia library, with stunning NASA images and animations, as well as a separate section for kids age 10+. Resources here include simple games, puzzles, DIY activities, and planet facts. Younger kids might have trouble navigating the kids' area without help due to the video game-esque navigation system, which takes some getting used to.
The Planets section is the go-to area for information about the solar system. The planet articles from the main page are slightly different from those in the kids' section (which are more interactive), but seem to contain essentially the same information. Although few opportunities exist for social learning, the planet pages provide a useful tool for researching the solar system, ensuring accurate, up-to-date data and fantastic imagery from NASA. The text level is too difficult for younger kids and may even be a bit of a challenge for the intended age group (10-14). Text supports are available, however, including numerous images, links to related NASA pages, summary facts, and relevant multimedia access. An in-text glossary might make the articles more accessible.
It’s important to note that some features require Java, the latest version of which is incompatible with some browsers, so users may have difficulty accessing the games on the kids' site. Also, interactive multimedia features may require a download before use.
Key Standards Supported
Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.
Key Standards Supported
Earth and Human Activity
Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places they live.
Ask questions to obtain information about the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather.
Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.
Earth’s Place in the Universe
Use observations of the sun, moon, and stars to describe patterns that can be predicted.
Make observations at different times of year to relate the amount of daylight to the time of year.
Use information from several sources to provide evidence that Earth events can occur quickly or slowly.
Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers to support an explanation for changes in a landscape over time.
Support an argument that differences in the apparent brightness of the sun compared to other stars is due to their relative distances from Earth.
Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky.
Develop a model based on evidence to illustrate the life span of the sun and the role of nuclear fusion in the sun’s core to release energy that eventually reaches Earth in the form of radiation.
Construct an explanation of the Big Bang theory based on astronomical evidence of light spectra, motion of distant galaxies, and composition of matter in the universe.
Communicate scientific ideas about the way stars, over their life cycle, produce elements.
Use mathematical or computational representations to predict the motion of orbiting objects in the solar system.
Apply scientific reasoning and evidence from ancient Earth materials, meteorites, and other planetary surfaces to construct an account of Earth’s formation and early history.
Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.
Develop and use a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system.
Analyze and interpret data to determine scale properties of objects in the solar system.
Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth’s 4.6-billion-year-old history.
Develop a model to represent the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area.
Obtain information to identify where water is found on Earth and that it can be solid or liquid.
Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.
Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
Describe and graph the amounts and percentages of water and fresh water in various reservoirs to provide evidence about the distribution of water on Earth.
Develop a model to illustrate how Earth’s internal and surface processes operate at different spatial and temporal scales to form continental and ocean-floor features.
Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
Develop a model based on evidence of Earth’s interior to describe the cycling of matter by thermal convection.
Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth's systems result in changes in climate.
Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
Construct an argument based on evidence about the simultaneous coevolution of Earth's systems and life on Earth.
Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth’s materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales.
Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.
Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth’s systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity.
Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses results in changes in weather conditions.
Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.
Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.
Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object.
Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
Ask questions and predict outcomes about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide.
Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and out of the system are known.
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of thermal energy when two components of different temperature are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system (second law of thermodynamics).
Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface.
Use tools and materials to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area.
Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object.
Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.
Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.
Plan an investigation to determine the relationships among the energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass, and the change in the average kinetic energy of the particles as measured by the temperature of the sample.
Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.
Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Matter and Its Interactions
Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.
Construct an argument with evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot.
Develop a model to describe that matter is made of particles too small to be seen.
Measure and graph quantities to provide evidence that regardless of the type of change that occurs when heating, cooling, or mixing substances, the total weight of matter is conserved.
Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
Develop models to illustrate the changes in the composition of the nucleus of the atom and the energy released during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay.
Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.
Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
Ask questions to determine cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other.
Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.
Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.
Use mathematical representations to support the claim that the total momentum of a system of objects is conserved when there is no net force on the system.
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that an electric current can produce a magnetic field and that a changing magnetic field can produce an electric current.
Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.
Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.
Ask questions about data to determine the factors that affect the strength of electric and magnetic forces.
Construct and present arguments using evidence to support the claim that gravitational interactions are attractive and depend on the masses of interacting objects.
Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to provide evidence that fields exist between objects exerting forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact.
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that objects can be seen only when illuminated.
Plan and conduct an investigation to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.
Develop a model to describe that light reflecting from objects and entering the eye allows objects to be seen.
Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning behind the idea that electromagnetic radiation can be described either by a wave model or a particle model, and that for some situations one model is more useful than the other.
Evaluate the validity and reliability of claims in published materials of the effects that different frequencies of electromagnetic radiation have when absorbed by matter.
Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.