Science Skills Station

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1 Science Skills Station Objective 1. Describe the relationship between the distance from the sun and temperature. 2. Make inferences about how temperature impacted the solar system formation. 3. Explain how the abundance of elements in our early solar system impacted the formation of planets. Skills Utilized Infer and/or Predict Analyze and interpret data Compare and contrast Determine relationships or patterns Graph data Activity #1 The data below displays each planet s distance from the sun and the temperature at each distance. The distance is measured in astronomical units. An astronomical unit is the average distance between the sun and Earth. The temperature is based on the amount of solar irradiance that reaches that distance. Solar irradiance is the power per unit area received from the sun. It is a way of describing solar energy. Planet Distance from the Sun (AU) Directions: 1. Graph temperature vs. the distance from the sun on your recording sheet. Label the distance at which each planet is found. Then connect the points with a line. 2. The table includes the average density of each planet. Determine the planets mostly made of rock and mostly made of gas. Surround the points of the rocky planets with a circle. Surround the points of the gas planets with a triangle. 7 Temperature (Kelvin) Density (g/m 3 ) Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Source: NASA, NYS Earth Science Reference Table

2 Science Skills Station cont. Activity #1 Questions: 1. Describe the relationship between distance from the sun and temperature. 2. How does solar irradiance impacts the temperature at each distance? Explain. 3. Is there a pattern to where rocky and gas planets are found? Explain. 4. Hydrogen and cannot condense at temperatures above water s freezing point to form gas planets. Does the data in the graph support this claim? Explain. Activity #2 Below are two sets of data: a graph that shows the relative abundance of elements in our solar system and a table of the size, mass and common elements found in each planet. Use the data to answer the questions Abundance of Elements in the Solar System Planet Diameter (km) Mass (Earth = 1) Common Elements Mercury 4, Silicate & metals Venus 12, Silicate & metals Earth 12,756 1 Silicate & metals Hydrogen Helium Oxygen & Silicon (Silicate) Other (mostly Metals) Mars 6, Silicate & metals Jupiter 142, Saturn 120, Uranus 51, Neptune 49, Activity #2 Questions: 1. What are the most abundant elements in our solar system? 2. Is there a relationship between the element abundance and planet size? Explain. 3. During the formation of the solar system, these elements made of up the protoplanetary disk that orbited the sun. Where do you think the elements orbited the sun in the protoplanetary disk? Why do you think this is? 4. Why were gas planets able to become so large and massive? 5. How might the planets differ if there were more silicates in the solar system? 8

3 Narrative Station Objective 1. Sequence the events important to the formation of our solar system. 2. Evaluate the importance of gravity in the formation of our solar system. Skills Utilized Answer questions Cite textual information Determine meaning of key terms Summarize information Make connections Activity #1 Directions: Watch a 3-minute video that simulates the formation of the solar system. Access and watch the video: Then answers the questions. Questions 1. What gases were most abundant in the clump of gas that formed our solar system? 2. What force was most responsible for the formation of the sun? 3. What materials were left close to the sun? 4. Compare and contrast how the planets formed in the inner region of the solar system compared to the outer region of the solar system. 5. Why are the planets in the outer region larger than the planets in the inner region? 9

4 Activity #2 Direction: Read the informative text. Then answer the questions. Narrative Station cont. FORMATION OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM Earth is part of a planetary system called The Solar System. The solar system includes the sun, eight planets and many moons. The formation of the solar system began 4.6 billion years ago. There are four distinct stages in our solar system s formation. 1. Our solar system formed from a cloud of gas and dust. This cloud was called a molecular cloud. The molecular cloud consisted mostly of hydrogen. 2. The cloud rotated. Hydrogen clumped together at the center of the cloud to form a ball of hydrogen. As the ball became more massive, its gravity became stronger. Eventually, its gravity became so great that the gas collapsed to form the Sun. 3. The remainder of the gas and dust in the molecular cloud formed a spinning, flattened disk around the Sun. This disk is called a protoplanetary disk. The region of the disk closest to the sun was hottest. It was too hot for gases, but metals and rocky particles could orbit close to the sun. Gases orbited further away from the sun. As the materials rotated, they began to clump together. They first formed small objects. These objects collided with each other to form larger objects. As they became larger, their gravities became stronger and they attracted more free material and objects to form primitive planets. Scientists believe it took 100,000 years for the collisions to form primitive planets. 4. Most scientists think our primitive solar system had more than eight planets. Some primitive planets collided and merged. Some collisions created the planets moons. Eventually only eight planets were left orbiting the sun. Over time, they completely cleared their orbital paths of debris. As collisions became less common, the orbital paths stabilized. The stabilization of the orbits also caused the planets environments to change and stabilize as well. Some of the debris from the formation of the planets is still found in the solar system. There is a collection of small objects that orbit the sun in the outermost regions of our solar system. This region, called the Kuiper belt most likely contains remnants from the Solar System s formation. Questions: 1. What four major events led to the formation of the solar system we know today? 2. If proto means original or primitive, why do we call the protoplanetary disk so? 3. How was gravity important to the formation of the sun and the planets? 4. Why would scientists be interested in studying the objects in the Kuiper belt? 10

5 Assessment Station Objective Recall concepts, terms and ideas relating to the formation of the solar system. Skills Utilized Define terms Sequence events Explain or summarize a concept Determine relationship List pros and cons Interpret or analyze data Compare and contrast Prioritize information Illustrate a concept Assessment Directions 1. Answer the following questions. Write down your answers on the recording sheet. 2. There are two bonus questions. If time allows, try to answer these questions. 11

6 Question #1 Which figure below best describes the age of our solar system? A. 4,600 years old B. 46,000 years old C. 4,600,000 years old D. 4,600,000,000 years old Question #2 What force was most important to the formation of the sun, planets and general structure of the solar system? Question #3 Compare and contrast how the sun and planets formed in the solar system. Question #4 Sequence the events important to the formation of the solar system. Elaborate on how each event led to the next. Rotation of gas and dust in a molecular cloud Formation of the planets Formation of the protoplanetary disk Formation of the Sun

7 Question #5 According to the graph, what elements were most abundant in the molecular cloud? How is this reflected in size and structure of the objects in our solar system? Question #6 Draw a picture to show how the temperature in the solar system varies with distance from the sun. BONUS Question #7 The Kuiper belt most likely contains debris left over from the formation of the solar system. What are the benefits to exploring the objects in the Kuiper belt? What are potential drawback or limitations? BONUS Question #8 Do you think space exploration or the use of mathematical and computer models is more helpful in expanding our knowledge of solar system formation? Justify your answer. Earth Kuiper Belt

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